For each of the last four years, St. Mary's Parish has hosted a party for an exclusive, but sometimes overlooked, part of its downtown parish -- its nonagenarians. One has to be 90 to be a guest of honor at this birthday bash.
"Of course, the whole parish and family and friends are invited, but the honorees at this party are those in their 10th decade," said Gloria McDonald one of the event's organizers. "They are just so happy that somebody thinks of them," McDonald said, "especially those who are not able to get out very much."
At the first party in 2013, organizers thought it would be just a one-time event. But each year, parishioners, and a growing number of 90-year-olds, inquire about when the next party will be.
Nell Beeson, who hasn't missed a St. Mary's birthday party yet, is the senior citizen of this group. A mother of 15 children, she turns 101 on September 14. The youngest is Beth Carpenter, who, born Dec. 22, 1926, was just six months shy of 90 when this year's celebration was held June 12, but they included her in the party, too.
About 30 to 33 people are "of age," and at least half of those eligible are able to attend. This year, about 22 were treated to birthday cake and sang to golden oldies provided by a trio of musicians. A brief bio of each honoree was read.
Four couples are numbered among St. Mary's 90-year-olds, including John and Jeannette L'Abbe and Bob and Jean Jones, each married 68 years; Bob and Nancy Muldoon, married 67 years; and Dan and Carm Johnson, married 65 years.
As part of the Greatest Generation, many were involved in World War II: four in the Navy, three in each the Army and Air Force, and one in the Marines.
[Deacon Gene Fadness is a member of St. Mary's Parish in Boise, Idaho.]