Bertha Raburn, a former Buddy Freddy’s cook, turned 90 on Friday, April 28.
Years after her retirement, Plant City residents still recognize Bertha Raburn as one of their favorite former cooks at Buddy Freddy’s Restaurant, legendary for her dumplings and red velvet cake.
On Friday, April 28, she will celebrate her 90th birthday. Now a proud Plant Citian, the Opp, Alabama native said happiness is the secret to a long life.
“Mine is just being happy,” she said. “I’ve had sad times, but I’ve always tried to make the best of a bad situation and living for the Lord. I don’t smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol.”
A farmer’s daughter, Bertha Raburn moved with her family to Jay, a small Florida town, as a young child. After her high school graduation in 1946, the family relocated to Plant City.
That May, she met Leon Raburn at church. He wrote her a note on a chewing gum wrapper, and the two began dating that month. They were married on Christmas Eve that same year. During their marriage, Leon Raburn worked for the Coca-Cola plant, and as a farmer and truck driver.
“I lived in the same house for over 40 years,” Bertha Raburn said. “We had six kids, three boys and three girls. One died and one lives in Kentucky, but the other four could all be here in 20 minutes. They always come to help.”
Bertha Raburn’s oldest son, Bobby, and youngest daughter, Cheryl, are 20 years apart. While Bertha Raburn was pregnant with Cheryl, Bobby was fighting in Vietnam. Today, she has 13 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren, with one on the way.
Family has always been her top priority, but by the time her youngest daughter reached the ninth grade, Bertha Raburn wanted to work outside of the home. After going to driver’s ed school at night, she got her license at 54. Shortly after, she began working for Buddy Freddy’s.
She wasn’t able to cook when she first got married, but quickly picked up how to cook large quantities for her growing family. Her dishes earned her first-place ribbons for cookies and cakes at the Florida Strawberry Festival, skills she later took to the Buddy Freddy’s kitchen.
“I was a cook,” she said. “I just thought maybe I would like that kind of work, and I really loved it. It opened up new doors for me.”
Bertha Raburn retired from Buddy Freddy’s in 1991 after 14 years, but still maintains close relationships with her former coworkers.
Once she retired, the Raburns would often travel to Valdosta, Georgia, to visit their friends, Ava and Emerson Witherspoon. To save money for vacations, Bertha Raburn would sell cakes and doilies she crocheted. Her finished doilies still decorate the end tables of her Plant City home.
“My husband and I both liked fishing, but I also liked traveling,” she said. “For 12 years, I would take bus tours and he would go fishing. Our secret was just being good to each other.”
Bertha Raburn will celebrate her 90th birthday with a party with family and friends Saturday, April 29.
Contact Emily Topper at email@example.com.