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Mission seniors residence celebrates 4 centenarian birthdays this month

Special party honouring a combined 405 years of life held on Jan. 25
Elsie Hellstrom (top left), Mary Gjernes (top right), Stan Moore (bottom left) and Evelina Walter all celebrated their birthdays this month. Elsie Hellstrom (top left), Mary Gjernes (top right), Stan Moore (bottom left) and Evelina Walter all celebrated their birthdays this month. All photos courtesy of Brittany Siemens.

A party honouring a combined 405 years of life was held at Mission’s Chartwell Carrington House on Monday, Jan 25.

This month, four seniors celebrated a centenarian birthday, three of which having just joined the 100 Club.

Evelina Walter turned 100-years old on Jan. 2; Stan Moore, the most senior senior of the club turned 105 on Jan. 21; and Elsie Hellstrom and Mary Gjernes, dubbed the “Birthday Twins,” hit the century mark on Jan. 24.

“We can’t hold a huge party. It’s kind of hard for them, their families can come visit in the visiting room, but it’s just not the same,” said Brittany Siemens, lifestyle and programs manager at the residence.

“So we had to think of something a little different to do.”

Staff put on a special party for them, and inducted the three women into the 100 Club, complete with a special lunch and cake. They were all brought their favorite flowers, except Moore who – his favorite thing being a glass of red wine – was given a bottle, Siemens said.

They all had family pay them a visit, and Gjernes was given a surprise birthday present in the basement theatre.

Her nephew had produced and written a song for her called ‘That’s Just Mary,” and Siemens gave her a private screening downstairs.

“After lunch, I said I have a surprise for you!” Siemens said. “She had no idea it was happening and she absolutely loved it.”

The seniors were asked to impart some wisdom for the youth of today.

Walter, who worked at a papermill before retirement, advised everyone to “live healthy and be happy.” She said one of her greatest accomplishments was quilting a whole bedspread.

A former waitress and nurse, Gjernes said dancing is what really makes her happy. She described the highlight of her life was being asked to perform at Mission’s Clarke Theatre in a play called “Young at Heart.”

Originally from Finland, Hellstrom was a hairdresser for her entire life. She said she helped build three hair-styling businesses, one in her native Finland and two in B.C. She said “life is no dance on roses” and everyone has ups and downs, but youth should “dream and keep on dreaming.”

And Moore, a veteran of the Royal Canadian Air Force who worked in electronics, advised to “keep going and smile.”

When asked what his greatest accomplishment was, he said: “Staying alive.”

Siemens said they were all talking with each other throughout the party and enjoyed themselves. She said they have taught her a lot about life.

“People always say ‘learn from seniors,’ and you really, truly can learn a lot from them and their lives,” she said. “They’re four separate individuals and have lived vastly different lives.

“I am so incredibly happy and blessed to be able to work with them every single day.”

RELATED: Local-born man turns 100, reflects on a century of life in Mission