The Health Center dining room on the Lutheran Life Villages Fort Wayne campus was filled with party-goers of all ages on Wednesday, February 23, 2011.
The special guests were centurions-12 residents who are already 100 years old or older, or who will turn 100 in 2011.
Staff, volunteers, family members and friends honored the 12 centenarians by saying a few kind words, singing songs and stopping by their front and center table adorned with bright red rose pedals.
"I told my kids I was going to a birthday party today. And all the people celebrating are at least 100 years old," announced Bruce Blalock, CEO of Lutheran Life Villages.
"Yes, it is a great honor to be able to touch into these people's lives and to learn of their wisdom. And, the best way to live if you are 100 years old is to live at Lutheran Life Villages!"
Craig George sang a wonderful rendition of His Eye is on the Sparrow and the Chaplain serenaded the audience playing What a Friend We Have in Jesus.
One of the honorees in attendance was Ralph Hine. He was born on August 30, 1908.
I had a delightful visit with this sharp, sweet man. We discussed his life and many memories.
One story Ralph clearly remembers was growing up 4 miles north of Roanoke near an area called Bull Town. While living on the family farm he went through eighth grade.
During the depression years he became a greens keeper at the Fort Wayne Country Club earning 25 cents an hour. "I worked at the country clubs," he exclaimed, "but never played a round of golf."
He said he met his true love at a barn dance. "We got married and decided to have a barn dance for our reception. And now we've been married for 63 years."
During his lifetime Ralph served in WWII and spent time in seven countries. He was with the 82nd Airborne, serving in North Africa, Greece, Italy, Belgium, Germany, France, Holland and England. He received two purple hearts.
When Ralph was 22 years old, he recalls working for the Nickel Plate Railroad Company building bridges on the Wabash Railroad. And for 25 years he was foreman for the Waynedale Lumber Supply Company.
As for health and longevity, Ralph advises: "Don't smoke or drink." As for staying active, Ralph says he walks a lot, loves to have company, talk and watch TV, especially wrestling.
He now lives at Lutheran Health Villages along with his wife, Ruth.
I was so inspired by this gentleman, who's so full of life, much more so than many I know that are half his age.
The Waynedale News would like to honor Centenarian Ralph Hine. May the good Lord send showers of blessings to Ralph and many more celebrations ahead. Happy Birthday, Ralph!