Country Villa residents ring in new year

Country Villa Claremont held a unique celebration last Friday as two of its own marked a milestone birthday in 2014. Residents Maria Ysacoff and Virginia Morgan were the guests of honor as both centenarians celebrated another year.

Ms. Ysacoff turned 100 on December 22, while Ms. Morgan celebrated her centennial on October 25. At 99, resident Jean Elan was also recognized for her December 2 birthday, although she was unable to attend the party.

“It’s important to acknowledge these milestones,” said Adriana Palafox, activities director at Country Villa Claremont. “It helps the residents stay active.”

The centennial celebration was commemorated with an intimate party in the Fireside Room at the 83-resident facility where friends and family members joined in the party. Balloons, holiday music and festive decor filled the room as care center employees served up sandwiches, fruit and birthday cake to guests.

Amid talk of longing for tacos, marzipan and a trip to Las Vegas, Ms. Ysacoff reflected on life as a centenarian as she chatted with family from both near and far.

“It feels the same,” she said. “The years don’t make a difference anymore.”

Ms. Ysacoff’s son Javier, and his wife Rosa Maria traveled from Hemet to spend the day with his mother. Her grandson Johnny, a Claremont resident, also joined in the celebration on December 19, along with his daughter Andrea and granddaughter Amberlyn, making it a rare, five-generational celebration.

“She’s having a really good day,” said Johnny. “I’m glad we can all be here with her.”

Born in Puebla, Mexico, Ms. Ysacoff immigrated to the US in the 1960s following the death of her husband. Her three children would soon follow and the family settled in Los Angeles, where she worked as a housekeeper for many years. An eight-year resident at Country Villa Claremont, Ms. Ysacoff has enjoyed dancing and painting, particularly family portraits, and spending time with those she loves.

Fellow centenarian Virginia Morgan was born in Los Angeles in 1914.

One of 10 children, she worked as a fashion model at Bullock’s in her early years before marrying her husband Fritz, who predeceased her. The couple had two children and made their life in San Marino before moving to Claremont in 1965.

A homemaker, philanthropist and devoted Catholic, Ms. Morgan attended Our Lady Of Assumption and volunteered at Pomona Valley Hospital. For 10 years, she served in both the gift shop and assisted with the sick babies in the maternity ward.

“I would give photos of the babies to the new mothers,” she recalled.

In her later years, Ms. Morgan has enjoyed flowers, tea parties and the company of friends, including Lisa Dom, the centenarian’s caregiver for the past 17 years, who visits with her four days a week.

“She’s looking forward to a visit from her son Dick, his wife Karen and her two grandchildren, Kate and Christopher on Sunday,” said Ms. Dom. “They’re coming from Colorado, and I know they wish they could have been here for the celebration.”

In her 100 years, Ms. Morgan says her wedding day was the most memorable of days and offers a simple recipe for a long, happy life.

“Be kind to people,” she says. “That’s the secret.”

—Angela Bailey


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