By Sharon Mager
GLEN BURNIE, Md—Glen Burnie Baptist Church (GBBC) Member Helen Bateman has a lot of memories— like her mom being warned by Indians not to swim after a thunderstorm, about her dad being the postmaster in Massachusetts, then her taking over the job, and about her grandfather giving away a ticket to Ford’s Theater because it was raining and he didn’t want to go out in the rain and later discovering that was the night Abraham Lincoln was shot.
Bateman also remembers accepting Christ. She was about 13 or 14 she recalls, and she was at the Dudley Bible School in Massachusetts.
“They were singing ‘My Jesus I love thee…,” she said. That was in the 1920’s. Helen will celebrate her 104th birthday on May 13.
She’s amazingly independent, and holds the distinction of being the oldest Stanley Home Products manager in America. She has a supply of bottles in a box in her dining room, marked with prices and more in her basement.
Helen doesn’t drive anymore, she thought when she hit 100 it was time to stop. Her cardiologist agreed. She gets around the house slowly, but surely, and her mind is clear and sharp, though her voice is soft. Hair recently styled, dressed neatly in a baby blue shirt, with pearl earrings, she enjoyed sharing some memories. She and her husband, Albert, who died in 1978, began attending Glen Burnie Baptist Church in 1950 after Albert was stationed at Fort Meade. They had a son, Frank, when Helen was 40 years old. “Frank was a gifted nurse,” Elva Goss a member of GBBC and leader of the “Silver Sages” seniors group said. Frank had planned to move in with Helen to care for her shortly before his death in 2012.
Through the years, while attending GBBC, Helen served in a variety of ministries including teaching Sunday School, and being part of the Women’s Missionary Union (WMU), and sending cards to missionaries in Japan. She occasionally played the piano and the organ. Now she belongs to the “Silver Sages” and attends the monthly meetings when she is able.
She’s had many trials in her century plus life, the death of her family members, and her own ills—a blood clot in her lungs, a pacemaker, and other sicknesses through the years, but she keeps persevering. She relies on her faith, and her friends.
She has a strong Christian heritage. Her grandmother was threatened for teaching slaves how to read the Bible during the Civil War era. Helen’s mother was a believer who made jams and jellies and took in strangers who needed help and her father came to the Lord at a Bible school event and Helen saw God dramatically change his life.
Through the years, Helen has seen the GBBC fluctuate as all churches do, at times drawing as many as 300 people. She prefers the old hymns.
Her favorite hymn is still “My Jesus I Love Thee,” and her favorite Bible verse is John 3:16. And she prays, especially at night for friends and relatives and church members and for her own needs.
Smiling she said, “I also pray I don’t fall out of bed!”
She attributes her long life to God’s grace, longevity in her family (her mother lived to 97 and her sister to 102), never smoking or drinking, homemade cooking and following doctors’ orders.
Her advice to “youngsters” is: “Go to church and Sunday School and obey your parents!”