So much wisdom in one room — well over 3,000 years! On April 27, 31 honorees participated in the 2016 Centenarian Celebration. With relatives, friends and civic representatives looking on, their table in Sun City Center’s Community Hall was topped with birthday decorations. Each of them had a birthday hat, a noisemaker and a cake. The honorees blew out their candles as the audience sang “Happy Birthday.”
Steve Overton served as master of ceremonies for the program, which included a Presentation of Colors by the Lennard High School ROTC and remarks from the sponsors — American Momentum Bank, the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay and South Bay Hospital. There was an audio message from Governor Rick Scott, a proclamation by the Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners, and letters from Senator Marco Rubio and Sheriff David Gee.
After Cindy Churchill’s beautiful rendition of “America the Beautiful,” Overton noted that several of the honorees were singing along and one even “took a selfie.”
During interviews prior to the celebration, the Centenarian Committee had gathered information, which Overton shared as each centenarian’s picture and age was shown on all the screens in the room.
Following is some of the sage advice gleaned during the interviews:
Always keep good records and don’t tell your age.
Just get a job and stay with it.
Take care of your mother, please.
Be honest, kind and follow directions.
Pay cash for everything.
Stay away from cigarettes and tobacco; they don’t do your body any good.
Don’t be afraid to take risks.
Read, read and read some more.
Work hard, keep busy, try to be happy.
Respect each other.
Don’t drink and take drugs.
Keep in touch with your family.
In addition to being wise, the group also had a sense of humor. Two of their remarks: “Peer pressure is not as bad now,” and “You have a great excuse for making all kinds of mistakes.”
Bill Murphy (100 in July) arrived in a T-shirt that read, “Made in 1916 — all original parts.” As Overton closed the program, Murphy asked to say something. He then said, “Everybody is speaking to us; nobody spoke for us, so I am taking it upon myself to say thank you from all of us for a wonderful afternoon.”
Spencer Faircloth, former manager of SunTrust Bank, started the Centenarian Celebration in 1992 to honor the bank’s clients. He retired from the bank eight years ago at age 79 and has continued to serve on the seven-member celebration committee as a community representative. Other committee members are Sherell Bennett and Shannon Mitchell, South Bay Hospital; Charlotte Clark, American Momentum Bank; Steve Overton, Morgan Stanley; and Evelyn Lunsford, community representative. They expect the next celebration to be in 2018.