Proud of East Texas: Jessie Ivy - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Proud of East Texas: Jessie Ivy


From horse and buggy days, five wars, jets and social media, Jessie Ivy has seen it all. Jessie is also a regular at the "Forty-Two" games at Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Whitehouse. 

The group has been meeting on Tuesday nights for the past 15 years. The group says Jessie is the liveliest, and at 101 (she'll be 102 in a couple of weeks), Jessie hardly ever misses a game night.

"I love it. I love to be with people and have fun," she said.

One of the longtime players, Benny Portwood, says Jessie is a mainstay at the games.

"She's been coming really ever since we started, about 15 years ago and she's a life of the party. She's gracious and a good 42 player by the way!" said Benny.

One of nine children in the Russel family, Jessie still lives on the East Texas land where she grew up.

When asked if she had a car: "My dad had a horse and buggy and that's the way we traveled," she said.

Jessie says that for a long time, her family didn't even have a radio, and when they got one, the neighbors would gather at her house to listen to their favorite program, The Grand Old Opry.

"And very few people had telephones. Yeah, very few people had telephones," Jessie said.

For those who take all our modern conveniences for granted, that's hard to imagine.

"We were just little country people and we enjoyed life, had a good family, a wonderful mother and daddy," said Jessie.

When asked why she thinks she has lived as long as she has:

"You know, I've wondered about that? A lot of people ask that. The main thing is I just had a wonderful family," she said.

In 1935, Jessie married Edgar Ivy and had four children, three sons and a daughter. And while there's been a lot of joy in Jessie's life, there's also been heartache. All of her children are gone now.

"That's the bad part of living so long. Yeah that is, I still miss them but the grandchildren come along, that's helped an awful lot. They're all sweet and helpful you know," Jessie said.

Jessie's granddaughter, Rhonda Bowden, says Jessie's been the most positive influence she's had in her life.

"She's amazing. She's always energetic and fun and always fun to be around. I love coming to see her and being with her, she's really amazing," Rhonda said.

Amazing is a good way to describe Jessie Ivy, whether she's playing Forty-Two or just sharing her own special brand of goodwill. 

Jessie Ivy will turn 102 on November 5.

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