NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University President Dr. Chris Maggio made a special phone call Friday to wish Earline Andrews a happy birthday. She didn’t mind a group of NSU students and faculty interrupting her breakfast in bed to sing “Happy Birthday.”
Her response: “Delightful!”
Andrews, who celebrates her 107th birthday on Oct. 28, is the university’s oldest known living graduate and is as sharp and spunky as ever.
Andrews was born in 1910, graduated from Vivian High School in 1928 and from Louisiana State Normal, as NSU was then known, in 1931. She was a classroom teacher for 43 years and has fond memories of her days at Normal that include campus buildings, notable teachers and administrators and codes of conduct that are long gone.
After living for more than 75 years in Tyler, Texas, Andrews recently moved to Fort Worth to live with her niece. She walks with a walker a half-mile every day, is an avid reader and stays informed on current events.
“Up until this year it has been my privilege to take her to vote,” wrote her friend Rita Bryant of Tyler. “People conducting the elections always contacted TV or the newspaper when she appeared. When media arrived, she lectured the public on civic responsibilities.”
After a long career of teaching and mentoring young people, Andrews retired and traveled the world, visiting every continent except Antarctica and Australia. On her 80th birthday, she was walking on the Great Wall of China. At 85, she rode a camel in Cairo and walked through the ruins of Ephesus. At 89, she was going into the port at Istanbul. During her teaching years, her interest in travel spilled into her lessons and in recent decades, former students have come forward to let her know how she inspired them to explore the world.
Maggio made Andrews aware that included in those singing were two upper level students from NSU’s Gallaspy College of Education and Human Development. He commented that although classrooms have changed, many aspects of teaching remain the same.
From Fort Worth on Oct. 27, Andrews said she would still be a young 106 until the 28th.
“I couldn’t have had a nicer surprise or a nicer honor,” she said.