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by David Leone
WAKE FOREST — In the course of the past month, there have been not one, not two, but three area residents who celebrated their 100th birthday.
Aurora Howard, Mollie Rivers and John Martin enjoyed becoming centenarians with family and friends.
Martin’s birthday was Oct. 27 at The Lodge of Wake Forest.
He was score and clock keeper for N.C. State basketball for more than 50 years. His only compensation was two tickets to home games.
After a five-star dinner for Martin and his family, more than 200 people enjoyed a birthday cake and snacks, according to Juliana Wieczkowski, the enrichment coordinator at The Lodge.
“Chef Linda created an exquisite cake complete with edible flowers for all to enjoy. Mayor Vivian Jones of Wake Forest joined the family for dinner and later presented John with a signed book 100 years of Wake Forest,” Wieczkowski wrote in an e-mail.
Family members presented photos of Martin’s life, dating back to age 2.
Coaches and their representatives attended the celebration and presented Martin with shirts and numerous certificates. The president of the North Raleigh Lions Club also gave Martin a lifetime achievement award.
“Just seeing John beam from ear to ear made the day even more special,” wrote Wieczkowski.
On Veterans Day, the Crossings at Heritage community celebrated the remarkable Aurora Howard, who turned 100 the day before.
Residents and staff at the Crossings sang two verses of Happy Birthday and shared cake with Howard, who got up and stood in line with everyone else.
Though she’s a little hard of hearing, Howard astonishes those around her with her “crystal clear” memory and level of independence.
She gets the newspaper for other, younger, residents in her community who are too enfeebled, and takes care of her 78-year-old son, who lives there as well.
“They can’t come out and get [the paper], so why shouldn’t I?” she said during her party. “Some of them can’t even get out of bed. You know, it’s hard.”
Howard is a New Jersey native, growing up with two brothers and a sister.
She’s not too old to tell a funny story. When asked for her secret to long life, she quipped: “I don’t know, to tell you the truth. I never had any secrets. It’s because my father, every time I got home, he’d be there waiting for me, and say, ‘What you’d do tonight?’”
Howard was a military wife. Her husband sprang the news that he’d signed up, when her son was 2, circa 1937. But she describes him as a nice guy who liked to have fun.
“Everybody here is very nice,” Howard added about her friends at the Crossings. “They all take care of each other.”
“And she takes care of all of us,” one resident added.
Last week, ladies from the General James Moore Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, celebrated Mollie Rivers’ 100th birthday during their meeting at the Wake Forest Historical Museum.
A longtime Wake Forest resident, Rivers was treated to singing of Happy Birthday and a gift of her favorite chocolate — Hersey’s kisses.
“She has been a member of the General James Moore Chapter for 61 years and still going strong!” wrote DAR member Julianne Moore.
Congratulations to all three.