Jannie Louise Weston celebrated her centennial birthday with family and friends at the LaGuardia Holiday Inn. Weston is known for her gospel music; “Move on Up a Little Higher” and “When I Take My Vacation to Heaven” gained her fanfare.
Born July 25, 1912, in Pantego, N.C., she moved to New York City in the 1930s, living with her aunt until she was she was ready to go off on her own and worked in a tie factory, a common job for women at the time. She and her husband raised four children, two boys and two girls. Weston ended up outliving her beloved sons–in the 1970s, Leon Weston was shot in the New York City streets and last year, at age 79, Benjamin Weston Jr. passed away.
Their family started out living in the Hunts Points section of the Bronx, and Weston finished raising her children in Queens, where she was a missionary at the Refuge Temple Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
After retiring, she was able to watch her children become successful and respected adults. Ruth Brown became vice chair of the Helene Fuld College of Nursing. Pauline Weston, now retired, worked as a New York City school assistant in P.S. 143 in Queens. Leon Weston worked with his father at their family-owned candy store in the Bronx and Benjamin Weston Jr. worked as a hospital custodian.
At her birthday celebration, Weston sang, “I Know a Man from Galilee” and “When I Take My Vacation to Heaven,” showing her strength and ability to sing at the ripe young age of 100. Her daughter Ruth Brown said, “The party was successful. There were 79 people there! My mom really enjoyed it.” She also said, “Even though she has short-term memory loss, she remembered all the words to her songs.”
Special acknowledgements were given by President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sen. Charles E. Schumer, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras and Sister Simone Gittens.