Jen Henderson is a journalist breaking news in the capital region. She is a staff reporter at the St. Albert Gazette and  covers provincial and federal politics, crime and court. 

St. Albert woman celebrates her 100th birthday

St. Albert woman celebrates her 100th birthday

A lot has changed since Mildred Berry was born.

She grew up riding in a horse and buggy and has lived through two world wars.

She doesn’t officially turn 100 until Nov. 8, but she celebrated with her second birthday party of the month over the weekend.

Dozens of friends and family gathered on Saturday afternoon to celebrate Berry’s milestone, as the social butterfly darted around through the crowd sharing jokes and stories with her friends.

Berry moved so quickly through the crowd it was hard to tell she is 100 years old. Her doctor has given her a perfect bill of health and Berry takes no medication.

“The doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with her,” Berry’s daughter Joy Franklin said. “The eye doctor says she has the best eye health of anyone her age he has ever seen. She has perfect vision.”

Her vision is so good that she is still able to spend her days needle tatting. Tatting is the method for handcrafting delicate, lace-like patterns to create doilies and other small decorations with intricate designs.

When Berry is not tatting, she is zipping around Ironwood Estates socializing. She has no restrictions to her mobility, and takes the stairs to her second floor suite because she doesn’t like the elevator.

Her earlier birthday party was a smaller gathering for just her family, and her surviving sister Roena Johnston, 96, travelled from Winnipeg to celebrate the big day. Although they live far apart, the women manage to meet up once a year with the help of their families.

“Together they are unmanageable,” Franklin said of the sisters. “They’re just like two children, they’re into everything.”

Despite the distance, the sisters remain very close and talk to each other on the phone for around 50 hours a month.

Berry is the eldest of three daughters and was born in Turtleford, Sask. to Elizabeth and John Hunt. After she was born her family moved to Manitoba where she was raised. She married in 1943 and was together with her husband for 67 years until he passed away in 2010. Berry spent most of her life as a stay-at-home mom raising her son Ed and daughter Joy and working part time as a nursing aide or housekeeper.

She moved to St. Albert four years ago when her daughter and her family relocated to the region. Berry is very close with her family and gets out three times a week to visit with them.

Although she has only lived in St. Albert for a few years, her party was able to draw a large crowd because she is so social.

“Everybody knows her,” Franklin said. “She makes her rounds. She likes everybody.”

Berry credits her long life to her Christian faith. She says she reads the bible and prays every day. She also says steering clear of most junk food contributes to her good health, although Berry’s daughter says her mom enjoys dessert and a glass of A&W root beer once in a while.

Her daughter credits her mother’s long life to her spunk and good genes.

“She’s a very determined individual,” Franklin said. “She keeps us on our toes.”

Berry said that she was having fun at the party but would be tired the next day after all the excitement.

“I may be cranky tomorrow,” Franklin said to her daughter. “Don’t come by tomorrow, I may snap your head off. If I don’t sound very good just hang up.”

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