LC woman looks back on century of life

As Naomi Riling Holloman prepared to turn 100 years old today she said she really only wanted two things for her birthday: for her family to gather together in her home for a nice meal and for everyone to be happy.

"I would also love a new nightgown but I already have nightgowns in every color that they come in," Holloman said.

Born to George Riling Sr., and Matilda Miller Riling, Holloman grew up in Lake Charles with two sisters, Margaret Riling Pendarvis and Gertrude Riling Cleaton, and two brothers, George Riling Jr., and Frank Riling.

When Holloman was growing up, her father worked as a contractor and she said he helped to pave some of the downtown streets with brick. She said her father was mayor of Lake Charles in the early 1900s.

"My dad was someone that everyone loved," Holloman recalled. "I still have things around me that remind me of both of my parents. One thing that is so special to me is my mother’s Bible."

Holloman has been doing a lot of reflecting lately and said she especially enjoys thinking back on all of her memories of her late husband, William P. Holloman, who passed away in 2005.

"Oh, he sure was handsome," she said. "He couldn’t dance but he made up for that in lots of other ways. All of my friends used to say they sure wished they had a husband like mine. He was a wonderful man and was so good to me. I had a real good husband and we had a lot of love."

Holloman and her husband had four children, Magdalena (Deanie), Julia Ann, William Jr., and Paula Marie.

Her husband was in the military and after he returned from serving his country, the couple built their first home on Lake Street. Holloman said in those days the street was nothing like it is now: "Oh, it was a dirt road and our home was one of the first homes on the street. That road used to get so muddy."

They later built a house on Contraband Lane, followed by a home that backed up to Contraband Bayou that they lived in throughout the rest of their marriage and where Holloman still resides today.

Holloman’s daughters, Deanie Holloman Klepzig and Julia Holloman Trouth, recalled this week that their mother was quite the cook when they were growing up.

"She cooked big meals every day but on Sunday our mom would host lovely family dinners – you know, the roast, mashed potatoes, vegetables, dessert, the whole thing – and sometimes we would have up to 20 family members eating dinner with us," Klepzig said. "She continued that tradition until her 80’s. For years, Mom would also send dinners to sick friends or elderly family members."

Holloman said if it wasn’t for her family she would be very lonely since she has outlived all of her friends and siblings except her brother Frank, who is 94.

She said she doesn’t have a need for the Internet and calls cell phones "those machines."

Throughout her life, Holloman said she enjoyed sewing, doing needlepoint, and cooking. She was also known to drive herself to the casinos well into her 90’s and while away the time playing slot machines.

Her well-kept home is cozy and full of her needlepoint pillows, handmade furniture crafted long ago by family members, framed photos, and a bench that Holloman sat on when she was a toddler.

Holloman grew up during the Great Depression and she said it has made her appreciate the simple things in life. "At Christmastime when I was a child, we would get fruit, nuts, and one toy," she said. "But we thought it was so special and we really appreciated everything we got."

A long-time member of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church, faith has been a constant in Holloman’s life and she always attended church up until recent years. When she could no longer drive, family friends picked her up and took her to church. In recent years, a communion minister, Sally Lawrence, has gone to Holloman’s home each week for her to receive communion.

The centenarian also enjoys getting her hair fixed by her caregiver on a weekly basis. "I like looking and feeling pretty," she said.

Holloman said she has a few pieces of advice for others who may hope to live to 100: "You need to have patience, take things one day at a time, eat good food, be happy, have faith, and put your cell phones away because you only live once so you should be with people instead of your phones."

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