Roatan’s Beauty, Truth & Wisdom

The Centenarian of Oak Ridge

Mrs. Avis at her home in Oak Ridge.

Mrs. Avis is a Treasure of Memories and an Example

With a smile that could brighten the cloudiest of days, Mrs. Avis Morgan Bodden, who recently celebrated her 101 birthday, is like a ray of sunshine. She has the conversational energy of a teenager and long term memory as sharp as a razor, making her a joy and a pleasure to visit and interview.

She was born on October 6, 1917 on Cayman Island to Amy Bodden, a Cayman Islander, and Walturner Bodden, a Rotanian seaman. Mr. ‘Turner’, as he was known, worked on a freight boat that sailed between Roatan and Belize. He was also a freezer keeper with the Standard Fruit Company, traveling on a cargo boat from Honduras to the US.

Mrs. Avis Morgan Bodden is absolutely clear of mind and remembers growing up in Bodden Bight in 1920s. She recalls paddling in a dory to Oak Ridge because there were no roads back then. “We had to paddle from Jonesville to Oak Ridge”, she recalls, “and after a while, Mrs. Oswald Ebanks build a road from Jonesville to Oak Ridge.” Mrs. Bodden also remembers participating in children games such as skipping rope, and even remembers Miss Betty, her English teacher from England.

She raised us with the fear of good and she made sure we went to school and to church

Mr. Ogilvie Norman, a young Roatanian seaman fell so in love with young Miss Avis that he followed her to Belize, where she moved with her mother when she was in her early 20s. They were wed in there and lived in Belize for some time before moving to Rose Hall, now the location of Parrot Tree Plantation. There they raised their six children; three boys and three girls, including a set of twins.

Over the years, Mrs. Bodden has lived in La Ceiba, Puerto Cortez, Belize, and Louisiana, where she lived for 25 years before returning to Roatan in 2011. She moved to United States to live with her daughter Dorothy after the passing of her husband in the mid 1990s. It’s impossible to live a hundred plus years and not experience loss. Besides losing her sister Dorothy who died as a child, Mrs. Bodden also lost a son who died at the age of 17 and another who died in a plane crash in Tegucigalpa. In all, she has buried four of her six children. Her living children are her second born daughter Mrs. Claire Mejia, 78, and her third-born daughter, Dorothy, 70, who is one half of a set of twins.

As a practicing Seventh Day Adventist, Mrs. Avis Norman Bodden believes strongly in the teachings of the Bible. “If you want to be a pilot, you study the Bible, and if you want to be a police officer you study the Bible,” she says. “She was a good mother, but she was strict. She raised us with the fear of God and she made sure we went to school and to church” says her daughter Claire, with whom she’s been living since returning from the USA in 2011.

Other than some hearing impairment and a little problem with her blood pressure, Mrs. Norman Bodden is in perfect health. Her daily prescribed medications consist of her blood pressure medications and vitamins. Though she wears prescription glasses, she seems to see perfectly as she sits in front of a television set watching a religious program. “I have some old glasses but they are right there,” she says, pointing to a shelf near the television set. “I don’t need them,”

Mrs. Norman Bodden loves her daily routine. She is not an early riser, she wakes up around 9 am and at 11:00 am, showers, dresses, and combs her hair before having her breakfast. “I bathe myself, comb my hair and put on my own clothes”, she says with pride and confidence. According to one of two sitters who assist her to prevent any fall while her daughter Claire is busy running her own business in downtown Oak Ridge, she would get in the kitchen and cook, if allowed.

Despite her age, Mrs. Avis Norman Bodden, mother of 6, grandmother of 9 and great-grandmother of 10 is healthy, strong and optimistic about life “God got me here for some reason,” she says with a smile.

Mrs. Avis’ wedding band from 1930s.

Mr. Ogilvie Norman, Mrs. Avis’s husband, in uniform.