By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — Louise Audette may say she’s slowing a bit. After all, she had to stop doing her daily visits to a local gym when she was in her mid-90s.
The Derry woman celebrated her 100th birthday this month and was honored by family, friends and the community.
Earlier this month, First Parish Church hosted a party for Audette with family and friends. Last weekend, the Molly Reid Chapter DAR honored her with a 75-year membership pin and also celebrated her century milestone.
Audette was born April 5, 1913, one of seven children back when Derry had about 6,000 residents, the roads were mostly dirt, trains stopped in town and a trip to Boston might take someone more than three hours.
Her family can be traced back generations in this area. Her father, Charles, was a prominent doctor in town. Her mother, Harriet, wrote several volumes on Derry history.
Audette said it was only natural to enjoy a long life as her mother lived to be 95.
“I’ve got good genes,” she said.
The family was a large, busy unit with many interests through the years. Four generations of the family attended Central Congregational Church in Derry.
The world was very different then, according to Derry town historian Richard Holmes, who offered his thoughts on Audette’s milestone at her birthday party.
“Louise was born into an America at peace. We hadn’t fought a war since 1898,” Holmes said. “She would be 4 years old before we sent our doughboys over there to fight in the fields of Flanders during the First World War.”
He also noted when Audette was born bread cost 6 cents a loaf, gasoline was 8 cents per gallon and prime apartment space in Derry could be rented out for only $10 a month.
Audette and her husband Charles were married for 65 years. She was mother to two and stepmother to one son. She is now the grandmother to six, great-grandmother to 10.
Through the years she enjoyed membership in the Molly Reid Chapter DAR in Derry, twice serving as the group’s regent. She also was very active in local women’s groups and church clubs. Audette was the Central Congregational organist for 46 years, playing for more than 2,000 worship services.
Audette’s sister, Ruthlee Root, 90, shares a home with her older sister on Beaver Lake. The two are still very active, enjoying the lake, and family and friends who stop by.
“I’ve just got to keep going if I’m going to keep up with her,” Root said.
Holmes said Audette lived through a century of amazing events. She has witnessed a history that included a Great Depression, many wars, 17 presidents, housing booms, recessions, a man on the moon, technology and so much more.
In Derry, she even survived three mayors and 19 town administrators.
“And here in Derry for 100 years, you have earned the love and respect of all of those who have been fortunate enough to know you,” Holmes told Audette at her party. “Long may you live here as an example to us all ... of a life well lived.”
To Audette, it’s all about enjoying life and doing the things you love.
“And I’ve just got to keep moving,” she said.