Even for our newer members who may never have met Charles Hinton, one of the Club's founders and long-time Club Secretary, they will be moved by this truly a good news story about a truly good woman!
On Sunday, June 7th, Mrs. Cleo Gore-Hinton, a resident of the Villas of Shady Brook in Langhorne passed an incredible milestone … turning 110 years old.
The event was celebrated by a parade of over 110 vehicles adorned with congratulatory signs and balloons and lead by a contingent of three Middletown police cruisers, a motorcycle and ATV. In all close to 300 neighbors, friends and family members turned out to show Cleo their love and wishes for good health.
(l to r) – son Robert Hinton and wife Sylvia, son Charles Hinton (who hosted the celebration), daughter Billie Hennix and Niece Valorie Wilkins
Cleo was born in Beckley, West Virginia on June 7th, 1910. She was the middle child of a stay-at-home mother and coal miner father. Her early childhood was spent living in several mining camps where her dad worked, some so small they had only 15 families. After graduation from high school, Cleo attended a beauty culture school thanks to a neighbor who ran the school and wanted Cleo to learn how to “curl hair” so as to have a skill to enable her to support herself.
Church and her faith were always a paramount aspect of Cleo’s life. She joined a local church at an early age and remains “chruchy” to this day. As a young adult, Cleo attended a singing convention in a neighboring community. After the services, the person who was supposed to drive her home failed to arrive. However, she was then offered a ride by a young gentleman and felt totally comfortable accepting the offer of Adolph Goodrich Hinton … although in an interview several years ago remarked, “how different things like that are today.”
That unplanned ride home proved to be a significant turning point in their lives as Cleo and Adolph finally were married on August 28, 1937 in Pearisburg, VA.and subsequently were blessed with five children, Charles, Billie Joycee, Robert, Carol and Larry. Sadly, Larry passed away in 1988.
After Charles, with whom Cleo lives at Shady Brook, was born in 1945, Cleo and Adolph returned to Berkley, WV to live close to the rest of her family.
Life in Berkley was still hard, with their family’s home warmed only by a “warm morning stove” and their love for one another. Their clothes, which Cleo made using a “pedal-powered” sewing machine, were washed by hand and a scrub board. They made their own lye soap and their iron was heated by placing it on a hot stove. However, the family did enjoy running water and indoor plumbing.
Cleo, Adolph and their family had good neighbors in Berkley, primarily comprised of Cleo’s brother, her parents and the beautician whose beauty school Cleo had attended years earlier.
Eventually Cleo assumed the responsibility of caring for her parents and her brother. She gained the strength to weather through the most challenging times by her devotion to and support she received from her church.
Her husband, Adolph died in 1984.
In recent years, Cleo spent nearly all of her time at Shady Brook, although she continued to own her house in Beckley which the family has used for summer vacations. At close to 106, she was able to join Charles for one of his Rotary Club’s monthly dinner meetings.
Throughout her life, Cleo always loved to read, particularly her Bible, newspapers and inserts which come with medications, as she wanted to understand what she was taking. Amazingly, until shortly before her 100th birthday, she rarely missed a beat and didn’t even require glasses. She would also tell people she ”has a good memory for an old woman” and could quote passages from multiple chapters from the Bible.
Close to 50 members of her family, which in addition to her five children includes, 23 grandchildren, 40 great-grandchildren and 10 great-great grandchildren, were able to attend the birthday celebration for this remarkable woman.
Charles, with whom Cleo lives, speaks with pride and affection about his mom and her positive and charitable nature, always wanting to give to others.
Think about it … this amazing woman was born when the U.S. had only 46 states and has lived through the administrations of 18 presidents, 2 World Wars, the sinking of the Titanic and Lusitania, the opening of the Panama Canal, the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, prohibition and its repeal, the Great Depression, the rise and demise of the Soviet Union and election of an African-American president. Cleo has survived to see such amazing technological and medical breakthroughs as television, antibiotics, the atomic age and nuclear power, the space age and men landing on the moon, computers, cell phones, the 1918 and COVID-19 pandemics, cures for polio and other contagions, the discovery of DNA and so many other things we now take for granted.
For her part, Cleo remains thankful for her family and the incredibly long life she has been granted.