More than 25 visitors and Gulf Coast Village residents and staff came together on Friday, March 31 to celebrate the 103rd birthday of resident, Mary Whitmore.
The room was decorated with colorful bouquets of balloons, pink and white streamers, and a birthday celebration banner on the wall. Attendees were greeted by the sound of 1920s jazz as they entered the birthday celebration. Upon entering the room, Mary was overjoyed to find three tables filled with guests. She was especially surprised to see a few of her church family members sitting at her table.
Mary has been a member of Grace Baptist Church for more than 28 years. Prior to her husband Al’s passing more than 10 years ago, the Whitmores attended weekly bible study brought to Gulf Coast Village by Grace Baptist Church. The members of Grace Baptist Church grew very fond of Mary and Al throughout the years and the church soon became their family. “Since Al’s passing, the members of Grace Baptist Church have and will always be there for Mary,” said Barb Reisinger, Grace Baptist Church member. “We are her family.”
The celebration began with a few remarks from Frank Giliberti, a Grace Baptist Church member. Followed by Wayne Schwartz, Gulf Coast Village life-enhancement coordinator, asking Mary to share her secret for longevity. Mary laughed and quickly responded, “Oh my God!” The room chuckled and Carmen Giliberti, a Grace Baptist Church member said, “It certainly is God!”
After a bit of encouraging, Mary finally shared her secret to longevity is simply enjoying life. “I just had a good life and here I am.”
As the cake made its way to Mary and the lights were dimmed, Wayne grabbed a guitar and prompted the room to join in singing the infamous birthday song. Following the cake, several gifts were placed in front of Mary. She was delighted to open the gifts and see her favorite candies from her church family and an outfit from her friends at Gulf Coast Village.
As the celebration came to a close, Mary was humbled that so many people came to celebrate her on her special day and expressed her appreciation.