By Kierra Pixler, Managing Editor
Berneta Peeples recently turned 100 years old, and although her steps have become a bit slower, her mind is clear and her sense of humor has never failed her. Peeples is somewhat of an icon in Belton, with her career at the Journal beginning her freshman year at Belton High. With what started out as her just working at the Journal on Saturdays became a full time job that next year.
“Bernita was inserting at 78 when I purchased the Journal,” said David Tuma, current owner of The Belton Journal. “Bundles thrown every which way that first week. Just total chaos with people all over the place. Not a safe environment. And there she was walking in high heals helping insert the paper. My first week was her last week inserting. In many ways, I felt she was unappreciated all those years. I was wrong about that. We worked together for 17-years. Think about that. She used to have these suckers in the desk for the boys when they were little. Now they both are in college. She had such pride in life and fought the good battle. We worked for Belton in an historic turnaround for this community in the past 20 years. I recon that is why we always got along so well. I would be lying to say it doesn’t bother me to watch her age. It hurts deep sometimes, way more than I let on. It takes courage and a little luck to reach 100. Bert did it on courage. She is the bravest person I ever met.”
Peeples is known for many achievements in Belton including being named the town’s outstanding citizen in 1980. The Lena Armstrong’s genealogy room is named after her in recognition of her imprint on the Bell County Historical Commission. She formed the Downtown Business Merchants Association and more recently, introduced Market Days, a monthly event where vendors populate downtown Belton with an array of merchandise and services. Add in winning the Yellow Rose of Texas award and you still haven’t chipped off much of the iceberg when it comes to accomplishments.
Although Peeples just moved into Park Place Manor a year ago, the staff and other residents have come to be very fond of her. They threw her a birthday party this past Saturday and with over 150 people showing up, it was very clear that Peeples is loved. She received over 100 birthday cards and enjoyed good food, a big colorful cake and many laughs with friends and family.
“Of course, Berneta was in her signature blue clothing and looked lovely,” said Susan Gibson, former longtime employee of The Belton Journal. “She said that she could call the shots now that she was 100, but I didn’t doubt that she called the shots long before she turned 100!”
David and Addle Posey attended the birthday party and have many fond memories of Berneta. They have known her for more than 15 years and use to attend lunches with her in Belton. They became known as the “lunch bunch,” which consisted of three couples and Berneta.
“It was a wonderful tribute of a very special lady,” said Addel Posey. “She has such good knowledge of the area and I’ve always been impressed with her work and local area history.”
The Belton community praises her for her faith, courage, endurance, and devotion, and for her example in all things.