Centenarian celebrates with family and friends

The High Desert Villas clubhouse was full of music and laughter as Nettie DeMattie celebrated her 100th birthday on Tuesday.

"I didn't think they were going to do anything special for my birthday," DeMattie said. "The room was full of my friends and family, so I was very surprised."

DeMattie, who was born in Los Angeles and moved to Victorville to be closer to her family about 18 years ago, enjoyed chatting with her guests and opening presents while music from the 1980s filled the room.

"I don't think she knew any of the songs, but she sure enjoyed the music," said Lillian Roberts, DeMattie's granddaughter, from Hesperia. "We had about 100 people here, one person for each year. My grandma even got a congratulation letter from the mayor of Victorville."

After the party, DeMattie shared a bit of her life story, which included her choice to remain single after her husband, Carmen, died at age 50, leaving her with daughter Jean and son Anthony.

"I married Carmen when I was 17, but I found out later that he still loved the ladies. Some men are like that, you know," DeMattie said. "I remained faithful and let him do his thing, but I remained faithful."

DeMattie said her daughter died of cancer in her 40s and her son died of an overdose in his 30s.

"I loved both of them very much and my door was always open for them," DeMattie said. "You know, my mom died when I was a baby, so I was raised by my father. Life is full of these joys and pains, but we still need to live our lives."

Despite breaking her hip years ago, which left her with a slight limp, DeMattie said she is in perfect health and free from medication.

"My grandma is a sweet, sweet person who loves God and is very comfortable with her life and herself," Roberts said. "I can't believe how healthy she is."

Mary Dussaq, who lives at the same complex as DeMattie, said her 100-year-old friend has the character and persona of a 60-year-old.

"Nettie is such a tremendous and amazing human being who just loves people," said Dussaq, after the party. "She lives a very simple life, full of church and friends, and her door is open to anyone. I think she's working on her sainthood."

DeMattie said prayer and good conversation with friends and family are what keeps her going.

"People just go too fast these days. Everyone rushing here and there," DeMattie said. "The secret to life is to slow down and love everybody."