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102 years young: Lessons from a long life

Posted at 10:00 AM, Jun 28, 2021

Festive balloons, an exquisite cake, and loads of love and laughter invade the Milwaukee home of Tracy Louise McNeely. Tracy hosted a grand birthday celebration this spring to honor her mom, Ruth Bradley McNeely-Wells. Wells reached a huge milestone, turning 102 years old.

Ruth says she does not ever recall being sick as a child

"I never remember mom taking me to a doctor. I never was physically sick."

Born in 1919 and growing up on a farm, Ruth says she was left in charge of cooking meals at the age of 10. "I had a good life! I wasn't lazy. I could do a lot of cooking for my mother."

Ruth became known for her culinary skills. She taught cooking classes and even had her own cake and pie business. But her daughter says her mom's children always came first.

"Her top priority in life-- her children," Tracy says. "That was number one in her life. No matter what, she had unconditional love!"

When Ruth was asked about any wisdom she would share for living to 102 years old, she exclaimed, "The only thing I could tell you, do not do ugly things. I'm the type of girl, I didn't believe in doing anything ugly!"

Tracy added, "She taught me how to stand up for yourself, don't back down. The biggest lesson that she taught me was always to do the right thing to your fellow human being like you would want them to treat you."

Ruth was also known for her volunteer work and commitment to church and civil rights. Tracy remembers going to marches with her mom in the 1960s.

Does Ruth have any advice for those hoping to live past 100?

"No, nothing. I just live."

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