"I love it here. They're the ones that keep me healthy," Merrill says about the staff that lights up when she briskly walks down the hall toward her office.
The staff, nominated Merrill for the "2014 Unsung Heroes Award," earlier this year and she won. Governor Terry McCauliffe will present the award to Merrill this fall in a ceremony. Staff says her indefatigable service and positive attitude toward staff and patients made her a shoe-in. "She's an inspiration," Debbie Williams, the center's Chief Operating Officer told ABC 13. "Jean's just the most wonderful person. She's sort of the grandmother to us all around here. Always so concerned about everyone."
As for the award she'll be receiving, Merrill says her family is more impressed than she is but she's humbled, "I was absolutely flabbergasted when I found out. I don't need to go to need meet the governor. My family, oh they think it's great. I don't know," she says as she shrugged her shoulders.
Her secret to longevity, Merrill attributes to her active volunteer and church schedule, a very healthy lifestyle and a zest for life. She eats low-fat meals after a doctor warned her to watch her diet years ago, but still treats herself to a cookie everyday after her turkey and whole wheat sandwich. She plans on being around to make her century mark. As staff gathered around her with hugs, she exclaimed " I'm the lucky one. I expect to make at least a hundred. At least!"