BROOKLYN, NY. Thurs. Nov. 17, 2016–We cannot say for sure whether she was the oldest Belizean alive at the time of her death, but Mrs. Rhoda Isabella Cherrington lived to see the impressive age of 104 before quietly passing away at her Brooklyn home earlier this month. Funeral services were held today for her at St. Marks United Methodist Church in Brooklyn. She was cremated.
Mrs. Cherrington, who was born on September 23, 1912, in Mullins River, is survived by her daughter, Constance Evandne Cherrington, 7 grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren. Her parents were Constance Elizabeth Robateau and Robert Smith, and following her mother’s death when she was only two years old, she was raised by her grandparents, George and Elisa Smith.
She would later move to Belize City in 1933, where she met and married Terrence “Ossie” Cherrington. While she only gave birth to one child, Mrs. Cherrington was mother to several children, providing a home to her adopted daughters, Marva Cattouse-Brackett (deceased) and Sylvia Blades-Wiltshire, and her nephews, Irving and Lerman Bruhier.
In 1963, two years after Hurricane Hattie, Mrs. Cherrington joined the exodus of Belizeans to the United States, where she worked for many years as a home attendant and then later as a babysitter. It is said that she had a big heart, and in addition to tending the children of many of her friends and neighbors, she also took care of most of her great-grandchildren, as well as several other family members.
In her later years, she would shuttle back and forth between Brooklyn, New Jersey, Delaware and Georgia to spend time with various family members; but it wouldn’t be long before she started hinting about a doctor’s appointment, and when that happened the family knew she was ready to head back home to Brooklyn.
At age 104, her mind was still as sharp as a dart. The family says that they could sit with her for hours on end picking her brains about many details dating back to her early life. She often spoke vividly about Charles Lindbergh’s famous 1927 flight to Belize, which took him over Mullins River Town. When asked, she credited her longevity to “a simple life, hard work and the grace of God.”