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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Betty Cooper Hale ‘climbing ladder to heaven’
The 105-year-old says hers has a few more steps than most
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Courtesy Photo: Betty Cooper Hale recently celebrated her 105th birthday with family and friends at Franklin Health Care.

Friday, June 27, 2014


Betty Cooper Hale celebrated her 105th birthday on June 18 and says she feels "pretty good to be 105."

Hale was born in 1909, in the Callaway section of Franklin County.

She was the third of nine children, born to Sam and Harriet Wright Cooper.

Two of Hales sisters are still living -- Jessie Cash of Alexandria and Hettie Radford of Ferrum.

At the age of 6, Hale's grandfather, Benjamin Wade Cooper, designed and built the Saint Peters-in-the-Mountain Episcopal Church, known locally as the "Rock Church."

Hale remembers construction of the Rock Church as being something "exciting" to watch.

"I remember sitting on my porch, watching the local folks bringing in rocks to build the church," she said. "Whole families would pass by with rocks on wagons, on sleds being pulled by oxen, and in wheel barrows."

Hale said her grandfather was known for getting local communities involved in his construction projects and the locals were "more than happy to contribute" by clearing their fields and pastures of unwanted rock. 

Her grandfather also built numerous other schools and churches in Franklin County and surrounding areas, including the Phoebe Needles Center on the same property in Callaway where Hale attended Saint Peter's Mission School, the Episcopal Church Missionary School.

To earn money for his family, Hale's father hauled milk for a dairy farm, the same dairy farm that Hale and her sisters would eventually work for several years.

"Before that, I worked for a cotton mill called 'Schoolfield'," said Hale. "It was located this side of Danville. I worked there for two or three years, but I never made much money."

Hale married the late Dalton Hale of Ferrum on Christmas Eve in 1931, when she was 22 years old. The couple was married 54 years before he died in 1985.

"We raised five boys and three girls," Hale said.

Six of Hale's children still reside in the local area. Bernice Hale, Berkley Hale and Shirley Whitlow reside in Bassett; Doris Berry and Elva Bourne reside in Martinsville; and Ralph Hale lives in Ferrum.

A son, Coy Hale, resides in Irvine, Calif., and Hale's oldest child, Donald Hale of Ferrum, passed away in 2013 at the age of 82.

"My oldest son, Donald, rented Paul's Barbecue, and I worked there for a while," Hale said.

Today, Hale lives an active life at Franklin Health Care and enjoys playing Bingo with her friends and listening to music.

"I especially love to sew," said Hale. "I've always loved to sew, but my arthritis holds me back. Before I came here (to Franklin Health Care), I had a good (sewing) machine. I made all the children a flower garden quilt and I pieced the tops."

Hale said she doesn't have a secret to living a long life.

"I'm just climbing the ladder to my heavenly home," she said. "My ladder seems to have a few more steps to it than most. I worked hard and I always liked to learn all of life's lessons."

In addition to her eight children, Hale also has 12 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

She celebrated her recent milestone last Wednesday at Franklin Health Care with family and friends.

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