The wisdom of an elder: Spotlight on Reather Winfield on turning the Big 80

| October 26, 2013
Reather Winfield (Courtesy photo)

Reather Winfield (Courtesy photo)


Whatz up, babies?

As always, I hope all is well with you and yours and that, you’re still taking the time to bring yourself and others some more joy, beauty, happiness, peace of mind—and most of all, love. For, it’s very important and so are the spotlights that we bring to you because they’re all about you and yours and how special you truly are. So, at this time, all I’d like for you to do is just sit back, relax and enjoy. Or, stand, jump and shout if you want to! You can do that because we’re gonna take you there:

“Hello Frost Illustrated readers. My name is Reather Winfield and I just celebrated my 80th birthday and I feel great and I really enjoyed my birthday party that all of my children gave me. They made me feel very special and I felt special because all of my grandchildren came, even one that hasn’t been here for 11 years. Also, a lot of family and friends came from out of town to my party and that made me feel special too because all of them thought enough of me to come and celebrate my 80th birthday with me. As I sat near the door, watching everybody enter, I was thinking, I’m very thankful to be in good enough health to be here and I really enjoyed myself.

“Being 80 years old, what I basically do now is, I talk to different people because they come to visit me everyday at my home. I also spend time with my different friends, that I’ve been friends with for many years and we sit and talk about the time when we were young. Then on Sundays, if I’m feeling good, I go to church and I enjoy that. Sometimes, some of my grandchildren get together and we go to a movie and/or dinner and I just enjoy being around my grandchildren and great grandchildren. 

“In my life, I’ve seen so many changes within this city and the main thing is downtown. Downtown, Fort Wayne, is completely different than what it was, when I was a young teenage girl, because they had movies, clothing stores, meat markets, five and ten cent stores and we could just get on the bus and go downtown, shop, get everything we needed and get back on the bus and go back home. But now, we got to go all the way out to get anything because it’s not downtown anymore.

“Another main change that I’ve seen is the churches. They’re in different places than where they were and groceries stores are a whole lot different. 

“Another thing I’d like to say about Fort Wayne is that, people should take a hold of their children better than they do. Because if you don’t start when they’re at least two years old correcting them and making them mind and to do what you say to do, when they get to be five or six years old, they’re not gonna do it. I think that mothers should take more time doing things with their children because they will be better children and you won’t have to go to juvenile courts or nothing, if you raise them up with you, like I did with all of mine. Me and my children would always do things together, like going to church and when they’d go outside, I’d go outside to play with them too. We’d go for walks together down to McCulloch Center and places like that and come back and when I’d visit someone, I’d take them with me. So if you don’t start doing things with your children, we’re going to have a rough world and this is one of the reasons, I think Fort Wayne is the way it is now—because parents don’t have control over their children and they need to sit down and talk with them. 

“I have three boys that I adopted and they’re my boys, their ages are 25, 26 and 29. I can say anything to them right now and they mind me. There is no difference between them and the children I gave birth to. I treat them all just the same and they all treat me just the same with respect. With my boys, I can look at them a certain way and they know they better stop and I think that if people spend more time and do stuff with them, they’ll be better children.

“I don’t think that’s it true, that some people think, that a lot of these children are wild and off the chain because they were raised by their grandmothers because a lot of grandmothers have raised their grandchildren that I know. And, I can name a bunch of grandchildren that I’ve raised and they’re all doing good and have good jobs. They live in real nice houses and went to college, so all grandmothers are not alike.

“I’m also like the neighborhood mom and the adults and children all come to me for advice when they have a problem and I can say anything to any of them what I want to and they all listen to what I have to say and I enjoy that. I also enjoy, when they just stop by for a visit and we talk and have fun, I’m always there for them any time.” 

And, now I’m going to share with you what two of her daughters and a neighbor had to say about her:

“Hello, Frost Illustrated readers. My name is Ollie Suttle and I’m the second child to my mother Reather and I love her. I have so much respect for her because she raised her nine children and she basically did it by herself. She taught us girls what it was to be a woman and she taught her sons what it was to be a man. A lot of people in Fort Wayne know her and people always come and ask for her advise and she gives good moral advice but sometimes, they may not like what she has to say but you better believe it’s what’s good for you. 

“She had a pretty good life and it was rich with love, understanding and plenty of friends. Growing up, we were poor but we didn’t know it because of the love and care that she gave us. She made sure that we were always clean and dressed, as well as, everyone else around us.

“She gave us a good moral up bringing and provided us with a lot of knowledge about being able to take care of ourselves, our families and about paying our bills. She taught us everything that we needed to know as an adult and she made sure that we got a good education and she still had time to share and help other people because she was always out there doing stuff and now I do that too. I have a daycare that’s called Aunt B’s and I take good care of other people’s children and everything that I have I share with people. She taught us lots of things so we can raise our children to be fine, upstanding citizens. So I wanted the spotlight shined on her because she deserves it, for all the love and understanding that she gives, I love you mamma.” 

“Hello, Frost Illustrated readers. I’m one of her other daughters and my name is Beverly Baymon. Me and we family gave our mother this birthday party because we wanted her to feel special and she did. She’s still excited, I visited with her today and she was still talking about it and she really loved it. And, that made us all feel good because she deserves to feel that way. She’s been a single parent mostly all of my life and she’s a hard working lady who took care of nine children plus other children. She’s also had her own businesses for a while and she did some sewing under her business name, We Sew It, that was located on Pontiac and Smith streets, but no matter what businesses she had, she always had time for us.

“And, she always fed everybody in the neighborhood and she never turned anybody down, she’s just wonderful. This was her second big birthday party that we threw for her, the first was, when she turned 50 years old and with her turning 80, is great because some people don’t make it, so we had a big celebration for her and everybody came from out of town and all of her nieces, nephews and everybody was together and I’d say there was about 200 people that were in and out all night—she’s just that special.

“I love my mother and she made sure that all of us turned out to be very strong people, she showed us the way of life and not to take everything for granted and to always work hard to succeed in life, she taught all of us that and she did good. You did real good, mom. Thank you.” 

“Hello, Frost Illustrated readers. My name is Reba Nelson and I’m a friend of the family and Ms. Reather is like a second mother to me. I’ve been knowing her since I was young and her daughter and I were good friends. She’ll help anybody and all the neighbors know her and she’s he’s just a beautiful person and I wouldn’t have missed her 80th birthday for nothing in the world. Because she’s that special to me and I love her and she’s always there for me and anybody, we’re blessed to have her in our lives.”

Now in closing I say, isn’t this just beautiful? Ms. Reather, how wonderful you must feel at this moment feeling the love and beauty from your spotlight because I’m feeling it while I’m writing it. And, what a privilege and an honor I feel, to know such a person as yourself. So until next week, you’ve been Up Close with Jeanie. Bye, bye babies.

P.S. If you would like the Spotlight shined upon you or someone who you know, all in the name of love, just send me an e-mail to I’d love to hear from ya.

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