By Heather Wilkins
In May, Sun City Center hosted an extraordinary event; 31 people turning 100 years old or older. The Centenarian celebration was a joyful experience to behold. Although the Centenarians didn’t break the Guinness World Record for the largest amount of people to turn 100 in one gathering, which was 39, the day was in a full swing of celebrating upcoming, belated and long-lasting birthdays. South Bay Hospital, American Momentum Bank, and the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay held the celebration in May of this year to honor Older Americans Month. Each person who attended the Centenarian was interviewed by the Centenarian Committee about their life and greatest moments, words of wisdom and special memories they made along the way.
Arabella Arnold was born in West Virginia on July 25, 1910. She graduated from the John B. Rogers School of Arts and taught classes on Shakespeare and story telling. Arnold said that beauty must run in her family as she told the Committee that she was a model for Vogue magazine in her youth. “Always keep a good record and don’t tell your age,” Arabella Arnold said to the young people. Arnold was celebrating her 103 birthday.
Other centenarians like Carl Gladfelter, who celebrated his 102 birthday, hope to see many young people broaden their views of other cultures. Gladfelter was born on March 15, 1912 in Detroit, Mich. He graduated from the University of Michigan with an MBA and recalled his career as a treasurer of a women’s wear company during the time of the Great Depression. He visited all 50 U.S. states and traveled to countries such as Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Gladfelter believes that his greatest achievement in life was his marriage and family. “Take good care of your body, never smoke and eat well-rounded meals,” he said.
Lois Witte celebrated her 100 birthday. She was born in Brown County, Ind. on December 1, 1913. She graduated from Butler University in 1947 with a Bachelor’s in Science and earned her Master’s in Education from Indiana in 1953. Witte is an active volunteer member of the Sun City community and worked with the Red Cross for a number of years. She worked at South Bay Hospital for two years and volunteered for various jobs in Hillsborough County through which she was the selected Volunteer of the Year in 1999 as a volunteer with the Mary and Martha House.