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Centenarians celebrate birthdays

February 17, 2006|by JANET HEIM

janeth@herald-mail.com

BOONSBORO - Memories filled the air as Fahrney-Keedy Memorial Home residents, friends and family members enjoyed a double celebration - Valentine's Day and the February birthdays of two centenarians.

The auditorium was decked out in bouquets of Valentine's flowers and decorations. Birthday cake, punch and snacks were served after the gathering was treated to the music of the husband and wife duo, The Violets.

Lorraine and Gary Violet of Middletown, Md., sang a selection ranging from George Jones and Tammy Wynette to Elvis that had toes tapping and hands clapping in the audience.

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The guests of honor included Frances Louise Grove and Mary Sloan Thurston, who celebrated birthdays around Valentine's Day.

A resident of Fahrney-Keedy since 1997, Grove's 104th birthday was the day before Valentine's Day. She was born in Sharpsburg and never married.

Instead, she worked as a librarian and pursued her passions of reading and travel, which included a trip to Japan after World War II, said Mark Thomas of Hagerstown, a distant cousin of Grove's.

For Thurston, who will be 101 on Feb. 19, she remembers going to Valentine's dances as a child. An only child, the Washington County native married Frank Thurston and they had one son.

The family line continues with three grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

Thurston was a schoolteacher for six years, then decided she liked math better and worked at Baer Brothers for 22 years as a bookkeeper.

She said she was contralto soloist at Washington Square Methodist Church in Hagerstown for many years.

Thurston recalls a conversation she had with her three grandchildren years ago when she told them she was having another birthday.

"They'd say 'That's OK - you'll live to be 101,'" said Thurston, who has seen that prediction come true.

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