LANSING | As she prepares to celebrate her 100th birthday on Nov. 20, Camille Hamilton recently offered her advice for living a long life.
"You cannot handle all your problems by yourself, you have to know the Lord, you have to have him on your side and he will gladly help you," she said.
That faith as well as her bubbly personality and positive attitude were on display Saturday at an early birthday party held in her honor at Grace Church in Lansing.
Born Camille Hill in Hillsboro, Ill., she moved to Lansing in 1943 and is a longtime member of Trinity Lutheran Church.
But attending Bible Study at Grace Church introduced her to a group of friends that includes Kathy Valente, a neighbor who helped organize the party on Saturday.
"She's an inspiration, she really is," Valente said. "Her faith is very, very strong. It's what gets her through every day."
Hamilton entered the church hall using a walker but moving at a good pace and stood to greet her early guests.
"She's very spry for 100," said Roxanne Ratkovich, of Lynwood.
Hamilton has survived two husbands, as well as both of her children. She has two grandchildren and two great grandsons.
Her 58-year-old grandson, Steve Anderson, attended the party on Saturday and said his grandmother is the backbone of the family and that she has taught him to always keep his chin up.
"She's just a woman who has great strength and wisdom," Anderson said.
Hamilton was no stranger to hard work in her younger days. She managed a restaurant and also owned a beauty shop in Chicago for 32 years.
She used to enjoy swimming, but now her main pastime is reading her Bible, which she does three hours daily.
Hamilton does not drink alcohol, but used to enjoy an occasional glass of wine.
"But I never had a cigarette," she said.
Chocolate is another story.
"I love chocolate," she said. "I could eat chocolate candy every day."
Hamilton doesn't watch much television due to the amount of violence she said today's shows contain, but does make time to watch Lawrence Welk reruns and the evening news.
She mostly listens to the radio, where she finds religious programs to keep her interest.
She loves music, but seldom listens to it on the radio nowadays.
"I don't like all that rap music," she said.
Hamilton said it feels "wonderful" to be 100 years-old and said she is not done deciphering what God has in store for her.
"I'm still trying to figure out, He has a purpose for all of us, and I'm trying to figure out just what my purpose is now," she said.