Rena Weston, of Liberty, formerly of Monett, will turn 100 in October and has been gardening for as long as she can remember. At her house, she nurtures an extremely large garden, which takes up the majority of her back yard. She also helps with her grandson's garden.
Rena Holder Weston was born in 1911 to Oscar and Flossie Holder. Her father worked on the Frisco Railroad. Rena grew up in a family of farmers and gardners. Her father grew acres of strawberries in Monett and shipped boxcar loads all over the country, including Chicago and New York.
Following a railroad accident, the Holders moved to Cassville in 1924-1925 where Rena's father began working for Singer. Rena graduated at Cassville High School.
Rena moved back to Monett in 1929 when she married Leon Weston. He was a highway worker and then became head of the Monett Sanitation and Street Department. He died in 1958. Rena retired from Jumping-Jacks in Monett.
Following the death of her husband and daughter, her grandchildren decided Rena needed to live closer to family, so 17 years ago she moved to Liberty.
Rena is an independent woman who continues to live alone and still drives.
"I renewed my driver's license this year," said Rena, "and the lady said that she would see me in three years. I replied that I sure hope so."
Rena and her husband enjoyed gardening together and always had a garden wherever they lived. This year, her garden was featured in the Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary's annual Garden Tour, held in June.
Rena grows raspberries, grapes, gooseberries, strawberries, blackberries, peaches, apples, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, cantaloupes, watermelons, rhubarb and onions, and she also enjoys growing numerous types of flowers. The majority of the plants are in raised beds.
"The success of my gardening is cultivation, fertilizer and a lot of attention," said Rena. "I am waiting for a shower, so I can set sweet potatoes."
She continues to do her own weeding in the early morning or late evening because of the extreme heat.
"I push mowed my own yard until last year," said Rena. "My grandson decided I was too old to do it anymore."
Rena still drives a 1993 green Azuzu pick up, which allows her to go wherever she wants. She also enjoys quilting, cooking and watching game shows and the news on television.
"I think the key to a long life is living a clean life and hard work," said Rena. "There is nothing wrong with hard work. I would like to live long enough to do several more gardens, but when I go, I want to be up and going."