106-year-old says God is reason for longevity

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 18, 2010

NATCHEZ — His hat read, “Relax, God is in control.”

God is the only reason Jerry Douglas was still here to celebrate his 106th birthday, he said.

“God loves us, He loves us all,” said Douglas, who attended Zion Flower Baptist Church until he couldn’t leave the nursing home. “I don’t know why man hates on one another when God loves us all.

“We should be loving one another.”

His granddaughter, Helen White, said it was her goal to age as well as he has.

“He is my anchor. He is such a wonderful man,” she said. “I cherish him and all his knowledge.”

Douglas was born in Robertson’s Bottom on March 17, 1904. He was a longshoreman for 26 years and then he worked in Pontiac, Mich., at the auto plant. Douglas came back to Natchez in 1976.

“I came back on the bus in ’76 because my auntie was in the hospital — that is why I came back,” Douglas said. “But I’m glad I came back, it was cold up there.”

Once in Natchez, he worked in security, and he carried his security duties home to provide a neighborhood watch, his son Charles Douglas said.

“He used to stay on the neighborhood kids to make sure they didn’t get in any trouble,” Charles Douglas said. “That’s how my old man was.”

Charles Douglas said Jerry was a good father.

“He sure took care of his son — still calls me sonny boy, to this day,” he said. “He was a hard working man too, that’s for sure.”

At the nursing home, Jerry Douglas continues to work hard, Sterling Dossett, Jerry’s occupational therapist, said.

“He is one of my most motivated patients,” Dossett said. “He wants to come to therapy every day and pushes harder than everybody when he is there.”

Jerry Douglas keeps a blue binder where he copies down information given to him from the Internet, to keep his mind sharp.

“He is 106 and just as sharp as he can be,” White said.

Knitting became another hobby when he was 98 as another way to keep himself sharp.

Jerry Douglas, who quit smoking when he was 84 because he said it was time, said he felt good on his birthday and was happy to be celebrating it with his family.

“He’s been my old man all my life,” Charles Douglas said. “I love him, and I’m glad he’s still here.”