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Dream comes true on 100th birthday

July 18, 2009|By TRISH RUDDER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Pauline M. Butts told friends and family members she wished to celebrate her 100th birthday with 100 balloons, 100 roses, square dancers and a trolley ride.

On Saturday, her wish was fulfilled.

More than 100 friends, including family members from Knoxville, Tenn., and the Winchester, Va., area, celebrated with Butts at the Knights of Columbus on Stephen Street.

Wearing a bright red dress, Butts sat in a recliner, where she was able to get a good view of the balloons, the roses, the Mountaineer Twirlers of Charles Town, W.Va., the Panhandlers Square Dance Club of Martinsburg and Kink Sammons, who performed country music.

Butts is a terminally ill patient and is under the care of Hospice of the Panhandle.

She resides at Linton's Personal Care Nursing Home in Martinsburg and has lived there for nine years, said Jean Linton, who owns and operates the home with her daughter.

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"Her wish was for the family to come back here in two years, and they did," said Jewel Miller, the wife of Butts' nephew, Donald, of Knoxville.

After learning Butts' wishes, Heather Moses, a Hospice social worker, contacted the Dream Foundation of Santa Monica, Calif., an organization that grants wishes for adults with terminal illnesses. The foundation sponsored the birthday event, Moses said.

"We try to make a wish come true," Moses said.

Sue Anderson, program manager of the Dream Foundation, said the nonprofit organization is driven by donations. Local organizations were contacted to help make the birthday celebration come true for Butts.

The foundation made arrangements for the Martinsburg Roundhouse Trolley to pick up Butts and family members at the nursing home and escort them to and from the party.

The foundation spent about $600 for the hall rental and catering, but everything else was donated, Anderson said.

"It's a testimony to one's life when the community comes together like this," she said.

Newspaper clippings about her and awards that were given to Butts were on display at the celebration.

Butts was quite active in helping people, Linton said.

Pauline Frye, Butts' niece, said Butts worked in physical therapy at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Martinsburg for 23 years.

Butts received a letter of appreciation from the Veterans Administration for her suggestion for a molded half-boot to prevent dropped foot.

She volunteered at Martinsburg's City Hospital for many years and received awards for her outstanding service, including the Governor's Commendation in 1992 from West Virginia Gov. Gaston Caperton.

In addition to her volunteer work, Butts traveled all over the world, "and loved every minute of it," Frye said.

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