Niles woman rings in 104th yearPublished 9:05am Tuesday, April 20, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star
The cake was not large enough to fit all the candles needed for Maude Gary’s 104th birthday party at Silverbrook Manor Monday.
So four had to do.
When Gary was born on April 19, 1906 in Chicago, Teddy Roosevelt was in office, newspapers cost pennies and the Chicago Cubs were actually a championship-caliber ball club.
Today the resident at Silverbrook Manor in Niles may be hard of hearing, but she still has a razor sharp memory and is full of wit and spunk.
When her cake was brought out and the staff members and other residents began singing the happy birthday song, she wore a beaming smile from ear to ear.
Gary was born with the first name Alvin but recalls beginning to use her middle name in 1923 when her brother was born with the same first name.
“People would see my name and think of a boy,” she said.
Gary, who could still recite her exact address and phone number of her childhood home, also reminisced fondly about her husband and son, Otis, who she still calls “my baby.”
“We worked hard together,” she said. “I loved my baby, and my baby loved me.”
She enjoyed shopping, making clothes and exercising when she was younger.
“Sitting in this (wheel) chair has cut my strength,” she said. “I cannot do the things I used to. I cooked, cleaned and did my laundry. I was a homemaker.”
Gary, an African-American born when segregation was still practiced and before the National Association for the Advancement for Colored People was even founded, is also proud to have seen a black man elected president.
“God don’t let me hate,” she said. “He loves everyone. I love everyone.”
When asked the secret to her longevity, she credited taking care of her body and being blessed by God.
“You need to take care of yourself. Live right,” she said. “Give God thanks and blessings. He gave me my mind, he gave me my hands, he gave me my eyes, my ears. He gives me strength.”
When asked her favorite memory, she couldn’t put her finger on one moment out of the thousands she has experienced.
“I’ve done a lot, people,” she said with a grin, causing the room to burst into laughter.