Family celebrates ‘fighter’ Jacques as she turns 99

Family celebrates ‘fighter’ Jacques as she turns 99

Nora Jacques, who turned 99 on Monday, and her son, Walter Davis, wave to well-wishers as they pass by in a 20-vehicle birthday parade for Jacques last Saturday. (Breeze photos by Charles Lawrence)

CUMBERLAND – Longtime Cumberland resident Nora Jacques beat breast cancer in her 70s, then cervical cancer at age 94.

“She is a fighter, for sure,” said her granddaughter, Kimberly English.

The family celebrated Jacques with a surprise drive-by parade last Saturday, part of a plan to give her the best birthday celebration she’s ever had, said English, who organized the parade. Jacques turned 99 on Monday, Feb. 15.

Up until a few months ago, said English, it felt like her grandmother might live to 200, and though the family has seen a slight decline over the past few months, she remains amazingly resilient.

Jacques has been a Cumberland resident in the same home in Monastery Heights for more than 70 years, where she raised her five children.

Jacques, born in 1922, had six children, five of who remain alive. She has 13 grandchildren, 33 great- grandchildren, and six great-great-grandchildren.

Her first husband, Edward Davis, died in a house fire at her current property in 1955, said English. The fire started from a lit cigarette after Davis fell asleep.

English said her grandmother had the home rebuilt, doing it for $8,000 at the time, and continued to raise her children. She eventually married Earl Jacques and they had her sixth child.

Jacques had worked for Automatic Machine for most of her life, retiring after turning 80.

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She continues to cook dinner every night for English’s Uncle Earl, who is her baby now at age 62. Her sons visit for coffee daily and her daughters take her out shopping.

Jacques was still talking about her birthday parade on Tuesday, saying she loved every minute of it. Every year she says she doesn’t expect to make it see 100, said English, but she just keeps putting one foot in front of the other.

“She is such a remarkable woman,” said English. “Every year she continues to have a Christmas gift under her tree for every one of her family members. And every year she says she is gonna take the big kids off her list, but never does. Christmas is her favorite holiday.”

Jacques, who has lost most of her hearing, has taken some falls but remains too stubborn to use a walker, said English. She doesn’t get out as much these days, saying she gets breathless when walking for a few minutes.

Jacques said her memory goes back to when she was 10 and in the middle of the Great Depression. Her father was a painter who could not find work. The family was reduced to eating sandwiches with mustard to survive.

“She is such a remarkable woman and truly the heart to a very large family,” said English. “My grandmother is my favorite person in this world.”

Nora Jacques, of Cumberland, front center, celebrates her 99th birthday with her family last Saturday, Feb. 13. With her from front left, are her daughter Shirley Machado; Nora; son Walter Davis; middle row from left, her sister Audrey Cougan; daughter Janice Rodriques; and in rear from left, sons Ken Davis and Earl Jacques.
Nora Jacques’ daughter, Janice Rodriques, receives flowers and other gifts for her mother from friends who organized a parade of 20 vehicles to pass by Jacques’ house in Cumberland to drop off presents last Saturday.