Charlotte Sheeter chuckled about all of the commotion over her birthday.
She sat in a chair inside an Oak Harbor senior living facility and was handed a special birthday hat to put on.
About 50 elementary school children began filing into the dining center as Sheeter and several other residents watched and waited.
“Am I the only one who lives to be 100 years old?” Sheeter joked.
Oak Harbor’s latest centenarian celebrated her birthday in grand style Monday at Harbor Tower Village.
Students from kindergarten through fifth grade from Oak Harbor Christian School visited Sheeter to offer handmade gifts and five songs, including a birthday tribute.
It was the second such occasion for Sheeter, who was sung to by the Oak Harbor High School choir two days earlier before she spent the evening with about 75 friends and family at a Chinese restaurant.
“She’s a very sweet lady,” said Helen Stimple, 95, a retired primary school educator who also resides at Harbor Tower Village.
“She’s a wholesome person. We’re very fortunate to have her.”
Oak Harbor Christian School became aware of Sheeter’s impending birthday over the Christmas holidays when children visited to sing to residents at the senior living facility.
They returned in hopes to bring happiness to Sheeter and other seniors as part of sharing their faith and got a history lesson as well.
Some students became intrigued about Sheeter’s place in a historic dateline they’d been studying about U.S. history, what sort of clothes she wore growing up and the type of toys she played with as a child.
MaryBeth Eelkema, who teaches second- and third-graders at Oak Harbor Christian School, revisited many of these questions with Sheeter after the students finished singing.
“My mother made most of our clothes,” said Sheeter, who was born May 4, 1915, in a small town outside Dayton, Ohio. “She was a seamstress.”
Sheeter shared childhood memories about playing with dolls and jacks and jumping rope. She and her sisters used to dress up their family dog named Rags and push him around in a cart “like a baby.”
Sheeter’s family used oil lamps for lighting instead of electricity. She was in eighth grade before she purchased her first store-bought item.
Students were interested if she had any memories of stories her parents might’ve told her about the sinking of the Titanic, which happened three years before she was born, but she couldn’t recall any.
When she spoke about any secrets to longevity, she frequently referred to her parents and a family that she said supported her decisions to help her stay happy and healthy.
“My parents were good to me. That’s all I know,” she said. “My husband was good and my kids behaved.”
Most answers came with a large smile.
Asked to share any wisdom she has acquired all these years, Sheeter said she’s found it to be a good practice to be kind and fair to everyone.
Fittingly, Oak Harbor Christian School students practiced that advice by their presence and singing voices.
“It was just surprising,” said Sheeter, who clapped along on occasion. “And I don’t think I’m worthy of all this. It’s been fun.”
“It brought tears to my eyes,” said Kathy Miller, a kindergarten and first grade teacher. “That was pretty amazing. You don’t get to go to a 100th birthday celebration. That’s the first one I had ever gone to.”
Hazel Welliver, executive director at Harbor Tower Village, said she’s experienced three residents reaching 100 years old in her eight years at the senior living facility and a fourth who fell only a few months short.
However, turning 100 doesn’t always equate to feeling that way.
“It just feels like I’m 50,” Sheeter said.
“It’s wonderful,” said Kay Meadors, 84, who’s also a resident. “The Lord’s been good to her.”
Meadors said the children’s visit was very uplifting. After singing, students greeted and spent time visiting other seniors who watched from their chairs.
“I look forward to it,” Meadors said. “I just love them so much.”