101-Year-Old Memphis Beautician Is Still Going Strong After Styling Hair for 75 Years

101-Year-Old Memphis Beautician Is Still Going Strong After Styling Hair for 75 Years
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A great-grandmother from Memphis cites getting up and going to work every day at the age of 101 as the reason for her enduring health and happiness.

Mrs. Callie Terrell, the oldest working hairstylist in the state of Tennessee, has had to field a lot of quizzical customers since continuing to work up to, and beyond, her 101st birthday. She has even outlived most of her regular customers.

“I guess my secret is just working and keeping busy because that’s what I’ve done,” Terrell said, speaking to WREG on the occasion of her 101st birthday on Nov. 26, 2019. “I had a very successful business, and what I do, I enjoy doing.”

“I’m thankful I’m physically able to do some of the things I used to do,” the great-grandmother said.

Having by now also outlived her siblings and parents, Terrell sees sense in doing what she loves with the time she has left. “I guess it’s not a lot of 101-year-old people in Memphis still working because they say, ‘Still working?’ Well, I’m still alive,” she said.

“Well if you don’t use it, you lose it,” Terrell said, “and people want me to work on them and they pay me, so why not do it?”

Terrell had planned for retirement at the age of 100, but when the time came around, the licensed beautician simply kept on going.

Terrell told WREG in one previous interview that styling hair is what she has enjoyed doing all her life. She said, “I always loved messing with my sister’s hair. They had beautiful hair and I always enjoyed doing this.”

As a well-known local figure in Memphis, Terrell’s life story has featured in many newsmedia in the United States. The now-101-year-old hairstylist officially became a licensed aesthetician and cosmetologist on Jan. 30, 1945.

Terrell built up a thriving business, and as a centenarian, she now rents space in a salon for her part-time practice. Since her daughter Inez stopped driving, Terrell, who still has her license, also acts as an occasional chauffeur.

“I’m not used to just being up in the house,” Terrell said. “You see, I worked so long; I’ve just been around people and doing something exciting. Most old people, they’re so dry and droll,” she said. “I can’t deal with that. I gotta live and do the things that make me happy.”

Reflecting further on life, work, and longevity, Terrell said: “People my age that I used to be buddy-buddy with, I don’t have a single one. I was in a bridge club. I’m the only one in the club that’s living.”

Despite having outlived a great many members of her community—family, friends, and clients—Terrell stays busy, making the most of the social opportunities that do come her way.

Terrell’s message to younger generations is one of stoic simplicity. “Just do the right thing,” she said. “What I mean is, you may be a church person. You believe in the Bible? Just live it.”

“Love people. Regardless of who they are. If they don’t love you in return it doesn’t matter,” she added.