The following article by Stephen Thomas was originally published in The Pioneer News on 6 Dec 2023. It is re-published here with permission. The text and photos associated with this article are copyrighted by Stephen Thomas and The Pioneer News.
SHEPHERDSVILLE — Lounetta Williams enjoys gathering with her loved ones every chance she gets. She especially loves to see her younger relatives.
Eleven young folks rolled together on the floor of Lounetta's newer Kentucky home in Shepherdsville on Thanksgiving weekend to begin celebrating her 109th birthday.
Lounetta's official birth day is December 7, 1914. On that day Pope Benedict XV called for a Christmas Armistice, a pause in the fighting taking place during World War I.
The attack on Pearl Harbor, "a day of infamy" which brought the United States officially into World War II, occurred on her 27th birthday.
Lounetta, known as "Net" by family and friends, was born during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, who gave his State of the Union Address the following day. Joe Biden is her 19th president.
Kentucky Governor Augustus Owsley Stanley was sworn in on Lounetta's first birthday, replacing James B. McCreary. Andy Beshear is her 27th governor. Locally, there have been 17 county judges and 19 sheriffs.
Lounetta is the youngest child of James and Mary Jane Stansbury. James was killed in the 1917 Shepherdsville train wreck, just after Lounetta's third birthday.
She graduated from the old Shepherdsville High School in 1932, and married her husband, Billy, in 1935. He passed away in 1992. The couple had no children.
However, they had seven nieces and nephews. And seven great nieces and great nephews. And 17 great-great nieces and nephews. And eventually 11 great-great-great nieces and nephews. "Aunt Net" cherishes each and every one of them.
Lounetta still lives independently, though more caregivers are available to her. Many of her older family members still visit frequently and take her to lunch, church, and other locations. One of her favorite locations is White Castle.
She loves all of her relatives, but takes an extra shine to her younger nieces and nephews, who all made a point to gather together for a special pre-birthday visit while everyone was in town for the long holiday weekend.
At 23, Abby Powers is Aunt Net's first great-great-great niece. One of her favorite memories was from a fourth grade school assignment when Aunt Net wrote a letter stating what Christmas meant to her.
"I am so glad I can share with you what Christmas means to me," Net wrote. "The best day of our life is the birth of Jesus and the name Jesus means salvation, and to have salvation we must accept Christ as our savior and repent our sins. When you accept Christ as your savior, the Holy Spirit enters your life and guides you in following God's teaching."
"She's a big letter writer," Abby mentioned. "I have a box of them."
"She really likes to have us over," said great-great-great nephew Sam Harned. "And she always likes us to come back."
The children all agreed that they loved helping Aunt Net clean her house... which usually amounted to five minutes of actual cleaning and then plenty of time for ice cream. A favorite was the flavored ice with toothpicks inserted.
"When I was little she'd have us clean the house and then she would give us 'pocket change' and ice cream," recalled great-great- great niece Anna Corado. "She always liked to feed us."
"The cleaning was always an excuse to give us money," Powers laughed. Great-great-great nephew Gabe Harned said the younger family members were always very helpful with Aunt Net.
"When I come over she even gives me my own room to hang out," Gabe said. "And one time she gave me a $100 bill, and that was special to me."
The twinkle in Lounetta's eye sparkled whenever she interacted with the kids, while her happy nature and sense of humor was an evident influence on the entire family. Everyone likes to gather with Aunt Net for Kentucky Derby parties as well as birthdays and holidays.
A sense of faith was also instilled into the family. A long-time member of Davidson Memorial Church, Lounetta stood up to pray with the family during the special gathering. Afterward, Powers shared a favorite Aunt Net quote.
"When I wake up each day and pray, I ask God how I can bless someone else that day."