By Julie Ireton
As Roberta Brown gets set to celebrate her 109th birthday this spring, she has no secret to longevity to share, but she says being a regular member of Abbotsford’s Luncheon Club helped her stay active throughout her “younger” senior years.
Brown, who now lives at the Ottawa Grace Manor long-term care facility, grew up in a small farming community in the Outaouais called West Templeton. She was born just a couple months before the start of the First World War, in June 1914.
While Brown says there are a few people at Grace Manor who are over 100, she’s definitely the oldest.
“I don’t know anyone that old,” laughed Brown.
And while being isolated from family over the past three years hasn’t been pleasant, she said to date, she’s made it through the pandemic without getting COVID-19.
“Am I ever glad that’s all over,” said Brown.
Over the years she’s survived two husbands, a daughter, many friends and family members. But she takes pride in having six grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and six great-great grandchildren.
“We’re just happy to have her every day,” said her son, Maynard Dunn.
While she stayed home with her three children when they were small, she later got a job in downtown Ottawa.
“I was a sales lady at Murphy Gamble’s on Sparks Street,” said Brown, referring to the now long-gone department store. “That’s where I worked for 12 years. I sold clothing and pretty much everything. It was considered one of the best stores in Ottawa.”
In her retirement in the mid-1990s, Brown lived in the south-end of Ottawa and a neighbour convinced her to come along to Luncheon Club at Abbotsford House at the Glebe Centre. It’s the old stone farmhouse across from Lansdowne Park.
Brown remained part of Luncheon Club for about 25 years.
“On Tuesdays at the centre we’d watch a movie, play cards, or trivia and games,” said Brown. On Fridays we went to one of the shopping centres.”
The club offers a gathering space for seniors considered “socially isolated,” people who might benefit from the interaction with a group of peers.
“Currently, the Luncheon Club program meets Tuesdays,” said Kirsten O’Brien, who facilitates community support services for Abbotsford at the Glebe Centre. “It fosters caring and support to each of the clients, provides activities of interest and then lunch.”
Roberta Brown now uses a walker and hearing aids, but she still plays cribbage and enjoys visits from her family.
Along with her birthday celebration this spring, she said she’s looking forward to spending time in the Grace Manor garden with its flowers and birds.
Abbotsford is your Seniors Active Living Centre for Adults 55+. It houses the community programs of The Glebe Centre Inc., a charitable, not-for-profit, organization which includes a 254 bed long term care home. Find out more about our services by telephoning 613-230-5730 during regular business hours or by checking out all of The Glebe Centre facilities and community programs on our website www.glebecentre.ca
Julie Ireton wrote this article. Kirsten Obrie took the photos of the gals playing Volley Ball! Roberta Brown is being poured tea by Nick Bermudez circa 2016-18?