Thursday, October 7, 2021

Centennial and counting

Canton resident marks 106th birthday with family and friends

Virginia Bett

Staying social and engaging with others, having a support system and passion for life - plus some good genes might be key to living to be 106 for Virginia Bett of Canton Township who celebrated her birthday recently at Waltonwood Cherry Hill Senior Living.

Dressed in her favorite color - red - and with red velvet cupcakes, rose gold balloons and with friends and members of her family, the entire day was a celebration for Bett. The 106-year-old mother of two, who is also an avid painter, credits great care and her love for art as part of her positive attitude for living a happy life. 

“And perhaps a bit of wine at dinner while we were growing up,” her son Bruce Bett added with a smile. Bett was there to celebrate his mom's landmark celebration - while her other son living in the U.P. will visit later this month.

Bett is one of the 1 percent of Americans who currently are living beyond the age of 100 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In Michigan, 3 percent live to be older than 100. Last July, Waltonwood Carriage Park resident Bonita Gibson celebrated her 110th birthday.

Bett, who was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa, met her husband at a fair and together they raised their two sons in Grand Blanc, and then Ann Arbor. Her husband was an economics professor at the University of Michigan, and in her own career as a teacher, she helped co-found a daycare center in Grand Blanc. She has been painting for years.

“What she loves most is painting including oils, but she shines most in watercolors,” her son said.

At her party, local musician John Latini provided entertainment and the Waltonwood culinary team made her favorite foods including the red velvet cupcakes. Gifts for Bett included framed pictures of her family and of her own paintings. It was a day to acknowledge all of her accomplishments, her son said. 

“We know that having access to great care, nutritious meals and access to a social life helps people enjoy more fulfilling lives -which leads to longer lives,” said Tiffiany Tucker, executive director of Waltonwood Cherry Hill in Canton. “For Virginia's birthday, we wanted to make it all about things she loves - like the color red.”