Ten decades of living haven’t slowed down Dr. Bernyse Hunter, who just celebrated her 100th birthday.
An educator, businesswoman and community activist, Dr. Hunter heads reading groups, enjoys gardening and traveling, and teaches others to lead healthy lifestyles.
“I work on myself every day,” she declared. “I start each morning with foot reflexology, using my fingers and wooden rollers.
“I dry-brush my skin to stimulate lymphatic flow and blood circulation, and alternate using self-massage and pressure points for joint fluidity in my hands.
“I want to help myself and also touch the lives of family and friends, rather than watching us all experience one illness after another and keep wishing I could help.”
Her focus and determination are not surprising in light of her many achievements. Dr. Hunter is an accomplished pianist, a licensed cosmetologist who opened the first black-owned beauty shop in Santa Monica in 1943, and co-founder of the Semper Fidelis Women’s Club in Sun Village that provides scholarships to high school students.
Passionate about education, she majored in the subject and earned bachelor and master’s degrees at the University of Southern California. In addition, she received countless teaching credentials and has taught at all levels throughout her life.
“After I retired from teaching in public schools, I taught in the L.A. County Court School for children newly released from the prison system,” she recalled.
At the age of 91, Dr. Hunter earned her Ph.D. in Holistic Nutrition. Her dissertation was titled, ‘America’s National Disease: Malnutrition, What Food Can Do For You.’
“I think giving knowledge is really the ultimate love gift,” noted Dr. Hunter, who aims to
publish parts of her dissertation, recipes and home remedies so others will have a written guide to follow.
Active in church all her life, Dr. Hunter has served as musician and participated in many auxiliaries. She also shared that her favorite scripture is Exodus 20:12.
Dr. Hunter, who plans to continue her active life, remarked, “I think just because people are retired, they shouldn’t go home and sit down. If you keep going, be more active, you’re helping yourself also. My thing is helping other people whenever possible.
“I’ve had a pretty full life and I’m looking for job if anybody will hire me,” she added with a laugh.