Keyser native has witnessed history

Liz Beavers
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Norma Hesse

KEYSER — Mineral County native Norma Hesse has seen a lot of changes in her life.

The year she was born, Warren G. Harding was inaugurated as the 29th president of the United States and Adolf Hitler later became the fuhrer of the Nazi Party in Germany.

Since then, she has lived through the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor and World War II, as well as the Korean War, Vietnam War, and Iraqi War.

She witnessed the birth of the Super Bowl, the cell phone, CDs and DVDs and streaming television.

Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon in Norma’s lifetime, and we all survived Y2K.

She’s seen civil rights movements, school shootings, presidential impeachments and nuclear meltdowns.

The Twin Towers in New York City fell when she was 80 years old.

On June 1,  Norma Hesse celebrates her 100th birthday.

“Mother was born in Limestone, and she was married to Richard Llewellyn and then to Harold Hesse,” her only child Jean Llewellyn Northcraft told the News Tribune recently, adding that the centenarian also has two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Norma worked for 40 years as secretary-bookkeeper for the Moran Coal Company and also did bookwork for the Marshall Oil Company.

She is a member of Potomac Highland Baptist Church.

As for her secret to reaching the age of 100, her daughter says, “I cannot say. She never exercised and her diet wasn’t always the best,” she jokes, adding, though, that “There are a few family members who passed in their 90s.”

Norma currently lives with her daughter in Chester, Virginia.

Liz Beavers is managing editor of the Mineral Daily News Tribune and can be reached at