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Betty Homan celebrates a century in style

‘100 years young’

MILESBURG — Earlier this week, Betty Homan turned 100 years old — or “100 years young” — as she would tell you.

On Wednesday afternoon at the Eagle Valley Personal Care Home in Milesburg, family, friends, fellow residents and staff packed a reception area to celebrate Betty’s 100th birthday. When the guest of honor entered the room, she began dancing as everyone sang “Happy Birthday.”

As she sat in a chair reserved for the guest of honor, she reflected on the day, her life and what it’s like to be 100.

“This just makes me happy,” Betty said with a smile. “It’s been great.”

Betty was born on July 10, 1919 in Axemann, Centre County. She has lived in Centre County for her entire life.

Her 100th birthday had it all — in addition to friends and family, there was live music and, of course, a sheet cake. Nearly all of her family members were there for the special day as well.

Betty is one of 16 children and has four children of her own — Lucretia, Beverly, David and Nancy. Three of her four children were able to be there for the special day.

Nancy Rider made the trip from South Carolina to celebrate with her family. Nancy, Betty’s youngest child, said she wouldn’t have missed her mother’s party for anything.

“This is a very special day. She lived alone until two and a half years ago when she came here. She’s amazing,” Nancy remarked.

Lucretia Swatsworth, of Bellefonte, echoed those thoughts. Because Betty had some health issues recently, the milestone birthday was something even more special, she said.

“This is very, very special. I would never in a million years expected that she would ever live this long. She’s had some tough times … in the hospital several times. The last time she was in, I didn’t think she was going to make it. But she’s a fighter,” Lucretia said.

Throughout the celebration, local musicians played familiar songs and Betty sang along, sometimes joining the band with her harmonica. That didn’t come as a surprise to Nancy, who said her mother always loved music.

“She learned music by ear. Her whole family all taught themselves how to play different instruments. She just loves music and loves the harmonica,” Nancy said.

Betty had all four of her children at home.

“She never went into a hospital,” Nancy said.

Nancy said that her mother has always enjoyed sewing. Some of her hobbies included making afghans and quilts. She also liked to garden and farm, Nancy said.

“She always helped on the farm. She was the one who trained the calves to eat on their own,” Nancy said.

Over the course of 100 years, times have changed and Betty has seen it all. The one constant in her life, she said, has been the Lord.

“I love the Lord and honor him,” Betty said.

David Homan Jr., was also present for his mom’s 100th. A resident of Walker Township, David said that his mother taught him a strong work ethic.

“She was always a very hard worker,” he said, “she worked on the farm and she loved to garden. She was a very good mom.”

Her extended family is quite large — she has eight grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren and eight great great grandchildren.

Betty said that her family is near and dear to her heart.

“We get along great. Every single one of us. We don’t fight, we sing,” she said with a laugh.

In addition to loving her family and music, Betty is a big fan of chocolate — and her cake reflected that, chocolate cake with chocolate icing. She’s also an avid birder and has an affinity for cardinals and blue jays. Her favorite flower is the carnation and her favorite colors are red and purple.

To put 100 years in perspective, during the year she was born — 1919 — Woodrow Wilson was President of the United States, a pack of gum cost five cents, a gallon of gas was 25 cents, a gallon of milk was 60 cents and the average annual yearly income was $1,518.

Betty was married to David, Sr., for 64 years. He passed away in 2001 when he was 90. Betty comes from a pretty special gene pool. She still has five siblings left. They range in age from 83 to 92.

“My mother is very strong, determined lady,” Nancy said. “It’s great that we get to celebrate with her.”

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