Centenarian has seen 100 years of Uptown life

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Sedonia M. Duffel

Sedonia M. Duffel, an Uptown native and long-time resident, will turn 100 on Tuesday (June 15).

She has lived Uptown for most of her life, beginning in a shotgun double on Louisiana Avenue and eventually in her current home on Austerlitz Street that she and her late husband, Whelmon Duffel, purchased more than 50 years ago.

The centenarian is the mother of eight, grandmother of 13 and great-grandmother of 17. Her grandchildren hosted a celebration in her honor on Sunday with limited family, friends and neighbors.

One of 14 children, Duffel overcame a serious case of dropsy (edema) as a child but was still able to help raise at least seven of her siblings. In addition, because of a severe knee injury, her kneecap was removed as a youth. She walked with a crutch for years and eventually with a specially designed shoe. None of that kept her from becoming the stalwart of her family, a granddaughter said.

Duffel was homemaker, seamstress, Sunday School teacher and a voting poll worker. She continues to keep up with politics and current events with her daily subscription to the Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate as well as watching local and cable TV news.

Steeped deeply in her faith, she has been a member of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church for more than 50 years, where she taught Sunday School and sang in the church’s choir. Part of her daily activities include reading the Bible and watching broadcasts of religious services.

During their formative years, when her children were growing up, their friends all thought Duffel was an English teacher because she was so meticulous about grammar and the spoken word. “I remember that we were not allowed to use words like ‘ain’t’ or ‘can’t,’” recalled one daughter.

Always welcoming, Duffel never failed to share a meal or a cup of coffee with neighbors, her friends say. She has served as a role model, said granddaughter Mona Duffel Jones,  for her family as well as the community.

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