MARLBOROUGH – The sparkling eyes above a gold-sequined mask matched the bright smile underneath as Alberta Fullem celebrated her 100th birthday at New Horizons in Marlborough on Jan. 6.
Fullem briskly pushed her walker to the O’Connor Town Common meeting room at New Horizons for this celebration. The applause reached a crescendo as she was led to the seat of honor beneath an array of pink balloons.
Fullem lives long life
Activity Coordinator Christine Furman began the festivities by sharing details about life in 1922, the year Fullem was born.
“Warren G. Harding was the President of the United States, construction began on Yankee Stadium, and the average annual income was $3,143,” she noted. “A dozen eggs cost fifty-five cents and a half gallon of milk was twenty-eight cents.”
Furman went on to give background information on Fullem’s life.
She was born in Valley Cottage, New York. She attended the Washington School for Secretaries in New York City before she worked in the Empire State Building as a secretary for the federal government.
She and her husband Matthew were then married for over sixty years until his passing, together raising three children. Alberta is now a great-grandmother, with seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. There are two more great-grandchildren on the way.
Fullem receives gifts
Marlborough Mayor Arthur Vigeant presented Fullem with a Certificate of Recognition.
A devout Roman Catholic, Fullem was also delighted to receive a personal letter and a blessed rosary from the Archbishop of Boston, His Eminence, Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley.
In the letter, O’Malley said he wished to “convey God’s continued and abundant blessings” on Fullem and asked that she say a rosary for him.
Continuing the celebration, Bob Fagone read a poem he had written in her honor, titled “100.” Fagone is the Chairman of Marlborough’s Historic Commission and visits New Horizons each Saturday to read with the Read Aloud Classics Group.
He commented that Fullem is a founding member of the group and a “very special lady.”
‘A little white lie’
Reflecting on Fullem’s contributions to the Busy Hands Knitting Group at New Horizons, resident Alice Wright recalled how the group told Fullem “a little white lie,” saying they were knitting small squares for a blanket for someone.
“We knew it had to be something with needles cause that’s what she does,” Wright said. “We decided to make her five-inch squares and the girls jumped right in.”
The result was an aqua scarf presented to Fullem which she immediately draped around her neck.
Attendees view photos, hear fun facts
Great-granddaughter Zoe contributed a slideshow to Fullem’s birthday celebration.
This slideshow was complete with music by Frank Sinatra and depicted photos from various moments in Fullem’s life, including scenes of her dancing at a wedding while in her 90’s. Fullem’s daughter, Renee, compiled a list of fun facts about her mother that was read by Furman.
French was her first language, Renee wrote.
She acquired her first pair of pants after hip surgery in her 80’s.
And, when asked when she started to feel old, Fullem replied, “I don’t feel old!”
“My body doesn’t work the way it used to, but I don’t feel older inside.” Fullem said, according to Renee.
“This is a testament to her young-at-heart character as well as her ability to find fun wherever she goes,” Renee continued. “She is interested in getting to know people and caring about them. Her goal is to understand and accept people as they are. You hear about people who try to change the world one person at a time. That’s Alberta.”
‘I can’t think of anything I haven’t done’
Fullem attributes her longevity to a glass of red wine with dinner each night.
During her birthday celebration, Fullem’s favorite dessert, German Chocolate Cake, was enjoyed by all.
Asked if there is anything she may regret not having done so far in her life, she responded with a twinkle in her eye.
“I can’t think of anything I haven’t done!” she told the Community Advocate.