Bristol woman celebrates 104th birthday

BRISTOL, Tenn. - Broadmore Senior Living in Bristol, Tennessee, celebrated the birthday of its oldest resident today.

Zella Moretz Roberts enjoyed the party, which was  was attended by community residents, numerous church family members and friends, many of her dozens of nieces and nephews, and even more extended family.

On February 28, 1909, a cold Sunday morning, Zella B. Moretz Roberts was born, in Meat Camp, North Carolina, to Eugene and Dora Hartley Moretz. She was the seventh child, and would eventually welcome three more brothers into the family.

In 1909, Meat Camp, NC, remained somewhat isolated. The majority of one's family needs were met through self-reliance and hard work. All family food was grown in the gardens, or raised on the farm, most all clothing and furniture was made at home. Only absolute necessities were bought from one of two stores in the community. Often, Eugene, Zella's father, would make caskets for deceased community members, and with medicinal remedies of gathered roots, herbs and barks. Dora, her mother, not only doctored her own family but tended neighbors as well.

In the late 1920's Zella went to work at the Green Inn, on King Street, in Boone.  She moved to High Point in the early 1930s and worked in the home of Dr. and Mrs. Harry Lyndon Brockmann for several years. At the urging of her brothers, she moved to Bristol in 1936 and on April 2, 1938 she married Russell Butler Roberts.

After Butler's death in 1993 she continued living in the home they built, doing her own housework and driving around town for errands. In September 2011 she moved to Broadmore Senior Living in Bristol. There she found many new friends and activities, and is lovingly cared for by the staff.

Zella has always inspired her family and friends with her many talents, physical stamina, a willingness to help others, and her "can do" attitude. 

With more than 45 nieces and nephews and hundreds of great and great-great nieces and nephews across the county, there is constantly a family member coming through the doors at Broadmore looking for "Aunt Zella."

You may send your birthday wishes to:

Zella Moretz Roberts
c/o Broadmore Senior Living
826 Meadowview Road
Bristol, VA 24201

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