Agnes Wiltshire Harry affectionately known as 'Sister Harry' or “Doux Doux” is Dominica’s latest centenarian. Sister Harry joins over twenty Dominicans who have lived to the ripe old age of 100 years, a figure that continues to draw attention to the island’s culture and lifestyle.
On Saturday May 5th family members and friends joined Sister Harry at the Roseau Seventh Day Adventist church in celebration of her 100th birthday. During the celebration Sister Harry, showed no signs of fatigue and sang along with the congregation to enthral everyone who attended the function.
Sister Harry, who hails from the village of Castle Bruce was born on May 02nd 1912 to William and Victoria Wiltshire. She was one of six children.
In 1944 Agnes got married to Martin Harry and spent a significant amount of her years residing in the Village of Wesley with their four children. Her husband passed away in 1976.
Throughout her years spent in Wesley, Sister Harry made a significant impression on the lives of those who interacted with her.
First elder of the Wesley Seventh Day Adventist church Andrew Shaw described Sister Agnes as being agile in her twilight years.
“God has blessed her and up to last year she was still going in front of the stove and cooking and bringing food for someone at the Infirmary at age 99. She is pretty strong and I will tell you what made her strong, it was her faith in God and all the green banana, dasheen and plantain from Wesley which she ate”.
In her earlier years sister Harry worked as a domestic worker. Her only daughter Liluis Richards said her mother has been an example in her life and describes her mother as a hard working and generous woman.
“She tried very hard to provide family and never found it too much to give to those in need. She always found time to help others and the charity began at home”.
Liluis recalls her mother in her younger days as a stern disciplinarian who played a significant role in raising children as well as grand-children.
“She administered discipline to her grandchildren, other relatives and to everyone else who needed to be disciplined, she would not hesitate to do it. She did it only when necessary and did it in an effort to stair her children or grandchildren in the right direction”.
Sister Harry throughout her life has been a devout Christian attending regular service at the Seventh Day Adventist church. Her daughter Lilius revealed that her mother made God the centre of her life.
“Until a few years ago my mother ensured that she attended service every Saturday. To this day he ensured that she devotes her time to her Lord on a Sabbath. It has been declared to me that my mother finds strength in the Lord. Her belief is so strong that she is 'a rock which will not be moved' ”.
Parliamentary Representative for the Wesley Constituency and Minister for Social Services, Community Development and Gender Affairs Hon. Gloria Shillingford is impressed with the level of care and support given to centenarian Agnes Harry throughout her years. Hon. Shillingford would like other families on the island to follow suit and care for their elderly parents.
“Let me just encourage all of us, those of us who still have our elderly family, including our mothers and fathers to take care of them. The Government can never take over what a family can do for family”.
Parliamentary Representative for the Roseau South Constituency Hon. Ambrose George and Health Minister Hon, Julius Timothy were also present to celebrate the milestone achievement of Sister Harry. They both expressed congratulations to Dominica’s latest centenarian and wished her continued long life.
In his remarks to the congregation Hon. Ambrose George said “I am sure had her children not taken care of her the way they did we would not be celebrating this milestone here today. I want to thank and congratulate her children and grandchildren and the rest of her family who played an important role in ensuring that sister Harry is well taken care of”.
The country’s Health Minister Hon. Timothy in his remarks would like all Dominicans to aspire to live to the ripe old age of one hundred.
He said “Today as we celebrate with “Doux Doux” let us use her (Agnes Harry) as a yard stick, let all of us aim to be at least a hundred”.
During her birthday celebration sister Harry was showered with gifts from family members and friends.
Sister Harry, a lover of poetry during her younger days penned and recited a number of poems. As part of her birthday celebration Sister Harry was presented with a compilation of her poems.
Studies on longevity conducted by the Ross University Medical School back in 2008 suggest that the key to longevity in Dominica is a simple lifestyle and a healthy diet, and regular exercises.