Her smile lights up her entire face. Her soft blue eyes still have that twinkle. Her hands hardened by years of tending to her beloved rose bushes reach out to greet every friend and stranger that walks by her room.
Nestled in her red armchair at Tri-County Care Facility in Vandalia, Juanita Raufer Henderson, formerly of New Harmony, will become the area’s newest centenarian Friday. This fact is not lost on Henderson, as she embraces the milestone with her signature smile.
“I do not have a secret for a long life,” Juanita said. “The Lord has a reason for keeping me here all this time. Now, I think he has left me here because I have not figured out what my purpose is yet.”
Juanita says one of life’s biggest mysteries is why some lives are long and others are short.
“No one knows why someone lives as long or as short as they do,” Juanita said. “The scripture tells us to live out our purpose in life. Some would say our purpose is to maybe aggravate some other living person. I would say the reason people live, besides their purpose God gives them, is to love one another as best they can.”
Born to Henry and Anna Mae Raufer in the once vibrant community of McCune Station on June 6, 1914, Juanita spent her early childhood in the area north of Bowling Green before moving to New Harmony in 1922. Juanita describes her initial reaction to moving to New Harmony as, “an instant feeling of home.”
The rest of Juanita’s story is available inside this week’s Bowling Green Times.