By LOIS KINDLE
Florence “Miss Flo” Ellenberger celebrated her 109th birthday at Sun Terrace May 30, surrounded by friends and two of her grandchildren. As she was wheeled into the main dining room for a surprise party, the birthday girl gasped with delight.
Flo quickly demonstrated her sense of humor and positive outlook, as she spoke to a roomful of celebrants. “I’m just a young chick,” she said, her face framed in a grin. “I plan on being around for a while.”
That’s nothing new to the folks who care for her. “She wheels into my office every day and says, ‘I’m still alive,’” said Kimberly Lehigh, executive director of Sun Terrace and Sun Towers. “She’s inspiring and such a delight.”
The centenarian has lived through much over her 109 years. Not many can say they were here during the sinking of the Titanic and the Lusitania, women’s suffrage, World Wars I and II, the Great Depression, the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War and man’s first walk on the moon. Just think of the changes she’s seen, for example, in the worlds of telecommunication, transportation and entertainment.
When Flo was born in 1910, the cost of a loaf of bread was $0.03 and a dozen eggs, $0.14. The average wage at the time was $.22 an hour. Only 8% of homes had a telephone and 14%, a bathtub. And more than 95% of all births took place at home.
Although she doesn’t remember it all now, she describes what she does remember as “wonderful.” And that’s quite amazing, considering all she’s been through. Flo has survived three husbands, two sons, a daughter and two heart attacks.
“I admire her most for never giving up,” said her oldest grandchild, Gay Miller, of Vero Beach, 61. “Despite great losses, she has stayed positive and upbeat about her life and the world in general. She has such a good sense of humor.”
Miller’s 59-year-old sister, Georgia Bozarth, of Yorktown, Va., agrees. “My grandmother always says how well she’s being taken care of and talks about things she looks forward to,” Bozarth said. “She’s always smiling.”
Highlights of Flo’s birthday celebration included the presentation of a card filled with good wishes from the White House, signed by President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump; a photo of the President; the singing of “Happy Birthday,” “High Hopes” and other standards; and cake all around.
One 90-year-old resident took Flo’s hand, smiled sweetly and told her she was old enough to be her mother.
Flo gives all the credit to God for her longevity and has little patience for those who feel sorry for themselves.
“I have been blessed. I’ve had a wonderful life,” she said. “I thank the Lord every day when I say my prayers. He directed and I followed.”