Callie Terrell was the oldest working beautician in Tennessee on her 100th birthday last year. This 2019 marks her 101st birthday, and she’s wiser, sassier and still a busy bee. Undoubtedly, Mama Terrell’s life is chock full of life lessons.


Between an interview, birthday phone calls and whipping up a pineapple pound cake for Thanksgiving, Tuesday was a busy day for the great-grandmother.

“Well, I can’t describe it,” she told WREG. “I’m thankful I’m physically able to do some of the things I used to do.”


Callie Terrel: 101 Years of  Life Lessons, And Doing What You Love

Those things still include working as a beautician, even though she said last year she was going to retire for her 100th birthday.

“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.


“So it seems those plans for retirement are on hold for the time being.

Callie Terrell working the hair of a client (Photo: James Boyd)

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

And why should she stop doing what she loves, when it’s the likely reason she’s outlived her siblings and parents.

“I guess my secret is just working and keeping busy because that’s what I’ve done,” she said. “I had a very successful business and what I do, I enjoy doing.”


Staying busy is what’s gotten her through life’s heartbreaks and setbacks.

More Wise Words From Mama Terrel

As she reflected, her message to younger people is simple.

Hairstylist Callie Terrell (Photo: James Boyd)

“Just do the right thing. What I mean is, you may be a church person. You believe in the Bible? Just live it,” she said. “Love people. Regardless of who they are. If they don’t love you in return it doesn’t matter.”


Terrell was featured on Steve Harvey’s digital show on his Facebook page, and taped at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta.

Life Lessons To Learn From 101-Year-Old Callie Terrel

  1. Do what you love earns you the kind of happiness that money cannot buy.
  2. Hard work doesn’t kill, it increases your life span.
  3. Concerning that skill/talent, if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.
  4. Love people – all people, not just some people – whether they love you back or not.
  5. Do the right thing, always. No matter how you feel about it, do the right thing.

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