Celebration honors lives of special centenarians

The Claremont Manor Care Center’s yearly Spring Celebration, commemorating a season symbolic of new life and rebirth, was particularly poignant this year as it also honored more than 200 combined years of continued life both past and present.

Residents Stella Weigle and Phyllis Mahler were featured among the 50 people gathered in the shade of the care center patio on Friday as both centenarians celebrated another year. Ms. Weigle celebrated her 101st birthday on April 4 while Ms. Mahler turned 102 years young on April 1. Fellow resident Aleda Rouw, whose 87th birthday fell on the day of this year’s Spring Celebration, was happy to share the spotlight.

“It’s a privilege to be recognized along with these women,” Ms. Rouw said of Ms. Weigle and Ms. Mahler, who happens to be Ms. Rouw’s roommate.

The monumental moment was commemorated in true spring fashion. A pair of performers entertained with a maypole dance as care center employees fired up the grill for classic springtime fare, hot dogs and hamburgers with a side of potato salad included. Such spirited occasions are typical at the care center. Activities Director Albert Mambou makes it his mission to hold an event at least once a month if he can help it. Care center residents and their families appreciate his full-of-life approach.

“He pulls [life] out of them in turn,” said Jill Rouw, Ms. Rouw’s daughter-in-law.

Holding an extra special celebration for Ms. Weigle and Ms. Mahler’s landmark birthday was of utmost importance to the social director: “These folks are very enthusiastic, and are looking for ways to socialize and stay active,” said Mr. Mambou, who is happy to keep encouraging them to maintain the lifestyle they seek.

Ms. Weigle said purposeful living has been vital to her long and healthy life. It began as a child when Ms. Weigle used to play with her 11 siblings among the local citrus, which have since been replaced with buildings and housing tracts. Not having the leisure of transportation also helped her to stay healthy. Everyday she dutifully walked to and from school before continuing her play among the groves.

That active mentality continued into her adulthood, going to school for home economics, later raising a family and enjoying many travels with her husband. Now she enjoys daily meetups with her son Richard Weigle, who lives in the Manor’s independent living facilities.

Ms. Mahler touts a similar repertoire of good health and active living, a lifestyle she refused to abandon when she moved to the Manor. She continued volunteerism with gusto and played piano for Manor guests well into her 90s, according to staff. Though suffering from back pains in the days before the Spring Celebration, she refused to give up on her previous mentality. She joined her friends in the middle of the sunlit courtyard with a smile that showed no signs of ailment. She deflects any personal achievement in reaching centenarian status by saying it’s merely a family trait.

“I’m going to keep busy until it’s time to be right up there with my wonderful husband,” she said.

—Beth Hartnett




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