Evelyn Berkey was born near Tulsa, Oklahoma, on April 21, 1920. Her parents, Harry and Mary Oliver, lived to be 92 and 93 respectively, giving Evelyn the genes to achieve the rare milestone of 100 years old. An event had been planned at the Castle Rock Country Club to celebrate her 100th birthday but it was canceled because of stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus outbreak. Despite the hiccup, more than 100 people in some 70 vehicles passed in front of her Castle Rock home to shout happy birthdays and to hand the woman of honor flowers, cards and other gifts.
A woman, a complete stranger, who saw the gathering even joined the parade to wish her happy birthday before tossing a bag of M&M’s to the centenarian’s feet. A majority of those who passed by shouted from their cars, “We love you, Evelyn. We love you.” Often, they would speak of hugs knowing they could not make physical contact. Evelyn, however, with an ever-present smile, crossed her arms over her chest – squeezing as tightly as her 100-year-old arms could – shouted back, “Air hug, air hug!”
Another well-wisher noted, “you have lived a lot of history. We read about it, but you have actually lived it.” When asked about the adage, ‘you learn something new every day,’ and asked whether she learned anything new on this particular day, Evelyn answered, “I learned to have a lot of friends. I am so happy to be this loved and to have this many friends. Can you believe all this fuss over an old woman?”
Evelyn’s 77-year-old son, Bill, roamed the streets with youthful fervor and joy as he snapped pictures of his mother’s special day, adding, “It’s not about the number of years you have. It’s about how you feel. She walks up and down those stairs every day,” he added looking to the two steps leading from the garage into the house.
As Evelyn walked back into the house at the conclusion of the party she spoke softly to Bill, whose arm she held, “Awe, wonderful. Everyone was just so sweet.”
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