After more than 10 decades of living, Annie Lillie Woods Juarez is not tired yet. In fact, the lively and sassy centenarian continues to surprise others with her insight and wisdom.
A resident of Los Angeles for over 85 years, Juarez recently celebrated her 108th birthday and her relatives came together to pay tribute to the family matriarch as well as marvel at how her positive attitude has contributed to her long and productive life.
“Aunt Annie – whom we affectionately called ‘Weeannie’ or ‘Glamour girl’ – is a force to be reckoned with! Her laughter is contagious, her smile is warm and genuine, and her sense of humor is spicy,” said her niece, Giselle Washington.
“She has lived a life reflecting our rich family heritage of resilience and strength. She continues to inspire and amaze us, even at her age,” she added.
Woods Juarez has led a pretty full life since her birth in Many, Louisiana on August 16, 1912. The ninth child of 11 siblings, she grew up in different locales. As a youngster, she was nurtured in West Tulsa, Oklahoma. She enjoyed elementary school in Chowchilla, California and attended high school in the Golden State city of Merced.
Moving south to attend Los Angeles Community College, Woods Juarez excelled in her studies. She later held jobs as a caregiver, domestic and in food service before embarking on a 38-year career with Rockwell-Boeing Aircraft Corporation as an equipment procurement specialist.
“Every experience has been divinely orchestrated by my Heavenly Father,” said Woods Juarez as she reflected on the positions she’s held, “And I’ve enjoyed and maintained lifetime friendships established throughout my career.”
Also in L.A., she met her soul mate in the person of Cruz Juarez, whom she married and remained in love with until his passing in 1983. With the couple possessing very strong faith, they became charter members of Christ Temple Church of Holiness, Los Angeles and freely donated their time, talents and treasures to the ministry.
“Auntie is a fierce proponent of marriage. She and Uncle Cruz married after three months of courtship and were together for 45 years+,” said Washington. “She says ‘respect’ is essential. Her motto is ‘respect grows love.’ To Auntie, marriage is a partnership, sustained by God, prayer, trust, support and working together to attain mutual goals.”
Woods Juarez devoted comparable energy to her family. Although childless, she was a surrogate mother to her nieces, nephews and other relatives, neighbors and children of her friends. She loved to cook and was known to delight others with her greens, candied yams, enchiladas and cornbread stuffing.
Noting her aunt’s generosity, Washington recalled, “She often gifted all of us with collard greens, tomatoes, zucchini squash, avocados and corn from her garden. Also, It was not unusual to hear her car honking as she reversed down the driveway smiling and pointing to the bags of groceries on the front porch – either store bought or home grown love.”
As for the key to her many years of living, Woods Juarez credits the Lord and attributes her longevity to “God’s promise.” A self-described prayer warrior, she advised, “Honor Him always and He will sustain you in peace, abundance and grace.”
Washington, who admitted that her aunt’s faith has sustained her family, concluded, “Throughout our collective life experiences, Aunt Annie – as the sole surviving sister – has guided, encouraged, supported and prayed us all through a myriad of challenges and victories.
“She is so very special to our family. Mrs. Annie Juarez has set the standard high and we continue to jump!”