Riverhead’s ‘Big Momma’ Esther Allen turns 100 years old

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Esther Allen was celebrated by friends and family at her 100th birthday party Saturday afternoon.

Esther Allen didn’t drive to her birthday party this weekend, but a few years back she might have.

Instead Ms. Allen, who drove until she was well into her 90s, caught a ride with family members to her party in the community room at John Wesley Village in Riverhead Saturday afternoon.

The longtime Riverhead resident is 100 years old.


Ms. Allen said the secret to living a long life is to work hard and always “do the best you can.”

“And treat others as you wish to be treated,” she said.

Ms. Allen, who was born in North Carolina and first moved to Riverhead in 1946, said she came to the North Fork to work on farms. She started her career by picking potatoes and later went to work in the processing plant at Crescent Duck Farm in Riverhead. She didn’t retire until she reached her late 70s.

Ms. Allen’s youngest son, William, 75, said his mother, whom the family knows as “Big Momma,” was always a hard-working, church-going woman. And he said her reputation as a hard worker rubbed off on him and his siblings.

“My brothers and I grew up working and taking care of ourselves,” he said. “Our mother is a very independent and strong woman and she taught us to be the same.”

Her niece, Emma Funn, said her aunt has been a constant source of advice whenever she’s needed it throughout her life.

Ms. Allen is the mother of four children: daughter Mamie is her eldest, and William also has two older brothers, Ben and Chester. Ms. Allen even has two sisters — Lila and Margie — who are both in their 90s.

Ms. Allen has lived with William in his Riverhead home for the past 30 years. He joked on Saturday that his mother can be a pain as a roommate, but mostly because she still sees him as her little boy.

“To her, I’m still seven or eight years old,” he said.

[email protected]