By Tina Comeau
This year Glenna King didn’t get a push-up bra for her birthday. That was a gift from her niece Sue MacKinnon at her birthday last year, when King had turned 106 years old.
Still, there were plenty of smiles and laughs when family, friends and well-wishers gathered at the Vancouver Place Seniors Residence on Sunday, Jan. 6 to wish King a happy 107th birthday.
“I appreciate everyone being here,” said King, as family and friends toasted another year of her life, although when the cake was brought out there weren’t 107 candles on it.
“That would bring out the fire department,” joked Reverend Bill Newell, before the room erupted into laughter and then a chorus of Happy Birthday before King blew out the candles on her cake.
Another resident of the home was also celebrating his birthday on the same day. Clarence Surette was turning 94 years old but didn’t seem to mind letting King have the spotlight.
King – who was a Murphy growing up – was born in 1906 in her grandmother’s house on Chestnut Street.
In the era of horse and buggy, she grew up in Brooklyn, Yarmouth County, long before electricity was the norm in households, roads were paved and television was invented. She helped to deliver milk with her family as a young girl, although back then the milk wasn’t even pasteurized.
The mother of six lived in her own home until the age of 102. Her parents died in their 60s, but she and her siblings have all lived long lives. Her two sisters and a brother are 92, 81 and 85 years old. Her husband Victor died in the mid-1990s.
She was hospitalized a few times over the past year for respiratory issues, but otherwise – aside from her arthritis – she has been in good health over the past years.
“She’s just an amazing woman, and so popular,” says Vancouver Place Seniors Residence owner Roseanne Webster.
Webster describes King as the matriarch of the home.
“Everyday she has her earrings on, her lipstick, her hair is done. She’s amazing,” says Webster. “She has a kind word for everyone and everyone has a kind word for her. She’s just a gem in our home.
“She spends her day doing Sudoku. She talks on the phone. Watches TV, she reads, she’s still into reading the newspaper,” adds Webster. “And in the five years she’s been with me I have never heard a cross word. She’s always kind. She’s always upbeat. She’s really a cool person. Everybody loves Glenna.”
And even at this stage of her life King is still willing to try out new things. A couple of months ago she took a crack at bowling on a Wii video console gaming system at the seniors’ residence – technology that was unheard of when she was growing up as a kid. After knocking down eight pins with one virtual ball and a swing of her arm, she was determined to knock down the other two and didn’t give up until she did.
It is believed that King is the oldest resident of Yarmouth. In the past no other seniors’ residences in the area have reported any older residents living in their facilities.