April 25, 2009

11CN: Third-Generation Adventist Turns 100

Third-Generation Adventist Turns 100


capEloise Rice Britton Bullock, a third-generation Adventist, has spread joy around for more than 100 years, always with a word of encouragement.

“I was before [most] cars!” she exclaims. “When I was young it was a two-seat surrey with the fringe on top.” She smiles and adds, “I was before radio, too!”


[Photo: Larry Blackmer]

Recalling scenes as if they happened yesterday, even though she was born on November 20, 1908, Eloise relives the excitement, drawing you into her experience.

“We ran out of doors fast to see what the noise was. It was the first time I saw an airplane. But I didn’t ride in an airplane until after my children were grown.”

These days Eloise’s rides are via modern-day conveyances—and her one-hundredth birthday found her riding a motorcycle with her son, Clifford—even if it was only around a parking lot. “It was fun!” she says, grinning.

Eloise lives at Morning Pointe Assisted Living in Collegedale, Tennessee. An accomplished pianist, she plays the piano daily there for the residents.

Throughout the years she’s instructed many piano students. “Hundreds,” she recalls. During the 1920s and 30s, Eloise’s cherished ministry was playing piano for evangelistic meetings in Michigan, a task she says she felt honored to be asked to do for 10 years.

Eloise may have invented the word “upbeat.” Though she’s outlived two husbands, Ferris Britton and Odell Bullock; a son, Jim Britton; a daughter, Norma Jean Blackmer; and a granddaughter, Linda Blackmer Rusk, she doesn’t dwell on her great losses.

As grandson Larry Blackmer, vice president for education of the North American Division, notes, “She never fails to have a positive outlook. She’s always upbeat and cheerful. I credit my grandmother’s great faith in God for her wonderful attitude on life.”

A 1926 graduate of Cedar Lake Academy (now Great Lakes Adventist Academy) in Michigan, Eloise recalls that her father, James Rice, sold his property as an add-on to the school. The family lived in a farmhouse on the land that eventually became a part of the academy’s history.

Along with being the mother of one surviving son, Eloise has 11 grandchildren and 24 great-children. When asked her secret to longevity, Eloise replied, “I’ve always relied on God.”