Lithia resident Annie Lee Hardee Tate has seen a lot in her 96 years and her daughter, local Realtor Susie Tate Morris, is working hard to make sure that as many people as possible can learn from her experience.
“My mother is the most resilient, vivacious and people-oriented person I have ever known,” said Morris. “She has overcome a lot in her life and is a role model to many.”
Annie Lee, one of seven children, is the granddaughter of Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, who was the Sheriff of Duval County and was elected Governor of Florida in 1905 and to the U.S. Senate in 1910.
“She endured many hardships as a child of the depression, but it gave her a great appreciation of life, which she passed on to all of her children,” said Morris.
Annie Lee married football star Charlie Tate, who coached teams at the University of Miami and Georgia Tech and went on to work for the New Orleans Saints and the Buffalo Bills. He was also inducted into the State of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame.
Shortly after they married, Charlie left for World War II where he served in the United States Navy in the South Pacific. Annie Lee’s brother, Douglas, lost his life fighting in the war.
“There was so much heartache from the depression to the Pearl Harbor jolt into World War II that it seems a resiliency was formed in my mother that still sparkles today,” said Morris.
Annie Lee and Charlie raised six children and have 17 grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren.
“It is that tie to the future that keeps her energized to overcome one set back then another in her quest for a beautiful life,” said Morris.
In addition to achieving real estate licenses in four states, Annie Lee also holds the title of Mrs. Florida from 1956 and was First Runner Up to Mrs. America, winning the Miss Congeniality award in the contest. Fifteen years ago, she moved to Lithia and has stayed active with the Silver Sneakers program through the YMCA. She also enjoys growing her own vegetables and watching the animals that surround her Lithia home, where she still lives independently.
“One of the greatest things my mother ever told me was to enjoy my life,” said Morris. “She said that the biggest mistake you can make is putting a time frame on how long you think you are going to live. It is important to enjoy every moment.”