Retirement village celebrates National Centenarians Day

September 22, 1999

Celia Staley, 103 yearsBy ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

WILLIAMSPORT - Going to work every day is nothing new to Milton Garland.

The 104-year-old Waynesboro, Pa., resident has clocked in at the Frick Company there five days a week for the past 79 years.

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Garland, who said he was named the oldest working American last year, shared his century of memories and the spotlight Wednesday with Celia Staley, 103, Sister Marie Julie Donohue, 101, and soon-to-be centenarian Ruth Wiley, 99, at Williamsport Retirement Village's fifth-annual National Centenarians Day celebration.

Other area centenarians Pauline Anderson, Otilia Huffer, Beulah Master and Elizabeth Zombro were unable to attend the event, which featured Hagerstown broadcaster Roger Keller skimming the century in a multi-media presentation.


"You've seen a lot of history," he told the honorees.

They witnessed the advent of the first packaged breakfast cereals, stamp books, drivers licenses, Lincoln pennies, Frankenstein and Dracula movies, zippers, color films, bathing suit contests, crossword puzzle books, comic superheroes and radio programs, Keller said.

Staley remembered riding a white horse to and from school, operating a grocery store in Pinesburg, and being one of the first women in that town to own an automobile, said Beth Kirkpatrick, public relations director at Williamsport Retirement Village.

Garland served in the U.S. Navy during World War I, lived through Prohibition, and traded his pocket watch for a train ticket home after the Great Depression forced his bank to close while he was on a business trip to New York City, he said.

He's lived through 19 U.S. presidents and looks forward to his second turn-of-the-century.

Garland doesn't feel much different now than he did when he was 100, he said, and doesn't have lofty expectations for the millennium.

"It's like a dog's tail - bound to occur," he said.

Memories flooded the room when Keller played a barbershop quartet's versions of the Depression-era song, "Brother Can You Spare a Dime," and the post-World War II tune, "God Bless America."

Staley, who lives at Williamsport Retirement Village, nodded her head in remembrance of the song popularized by Kate Smith. Wiley, who lives at Clearview Nursing Home in Hagerstown, and Donohue, who lives at St. Catherine's Nursing Center in Emmitsburg, Md., sang along.

An excerpt from an old radio broadcast of "The Lone Ranger" transported Wiley's daughter, Fae Holland, back to childhood days when she would flip on the family radio to listen to the show after school.

Holland attributed her mother's longevity to her "feistiness," but Wiley said her secret was "taking it one day at a time."

Garland's best advice was "not to worry about anything," and Donohue, who earned her master's degree in history from Catholic University in 1937 and was an advocate for the poor, said her secret of longevity is "living a regular life and staying active and informed."

Each centenarian received an official citation from a representative of state Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington.

Williamsport Mayor John W. Slayman, Eva Rosvold, who is the Western Maryland representative for U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, and nursing home officials were present at the event.

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