Priscilla Wharff Jones turns 100

Published 9:10 pm Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Priscilla Wharff Jones feels lucky to have reached 100.

More than 25 people showed up at her front door on Feb. 10 to celebrate Smithfield’s new centenarian by singing “Happy Birthday” and presenting her with a cake.

Jones remembers the years well, having grown up in Mason, New Hampshire, where the changing of the seasons — from warm to sometimes bitter cold — does not go unnoticed.

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“In high school, Papa took us to the Poor House, where we met the school bus,” she recalled, speaking to her daughter, Elizabeth, for an interview with The Smithfield Times. “People who couldn’t afford to live anywhere lived in the Poor House. That’s where people gathered to take the school bus.”

She attended Keene Teachers College in New Hampshire and married Bradford Jones, a World War II veteran, in August 1945. Bradford died in 2015 at age 97.

“When I taught in Mason, I had eight grades,” she recalls.

The couple later moved to Hampton, Virginia, then to Newport News, then to Smithfield. In Hampton, she began helping a teacher who went by “Miss Anslee” in the classroom, when she unexpectedly was offered a teaching contract of her own.

“I was walking through the halls when I took my daughter to school, and the principal asked me if I would teach,” Jones recalls. “I don’t know how she knew I had a teacher’s certificate. I didn’t go out looking for work.”

She ended up teaching in Hampton for roughly 15 years.

“She is in good health and, since her father lived to 103, will probably be with us for several more years,” Elizabeth said.