Family, caregivers celebrate 103 yr old birthday - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Family, caregivers celebrate 103 yr old birthday

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A chorus of happy birthday and a giant cake filled the dining area of Gentilly Gardens retirement home as family and friends of Mrs. Thelva Sharpe marked her 103rd birthday.

She was born in 1911 and spent a career as a school teacher, in addition to being a wife and mother. After her retirement, she spent years as a substitute teacher. When she wasn't doing that, she was painting or tending to a garden.

During the party, she remained quiet with her eyes closed. But she occassionally looked up at her son or daughter-in-law, granddaughters or great-granddaughters or staff members.

"She has days where she's talking and she'll tell you how she's doing and she'll tell you how you're doing," explained executive director Chaka White.

"It's just incredible to still have her with us," said granddaughter Elizabeth Sharpe. "There are so many things that I now understand as an adult that I didn't when she told us as we were younger."

Is there a secret to her long life?

"I once asked her what was the key to her longevity and she told me 'I mind my own business'...and she stopped talking. That was it," White added with a laugh.

Sharpe said she often thinks of her grandmother when she looks at dates from history or looks through a family scrapbook.

"When I look at it and do the math and figure out she was my age when this happened or that happened. It gives me a perspective on how much different our worlds were," she said.

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