The Woodlands Retirement Home in Leesville celebrated Merrial Thomas' 100th birthday on Feb. 24, validating wisdom, elegance and grace do come with age.


The Woodlands Retirement Home in Leesville celebrated Merrial Thomas' 100th birthday on Feb. 24, validating wisdom, elegance and grace do come with age.
As Ms. Thomas entered the room in her favorite pink dress, the look on her face displayed true happiness and gratitude as she repeated numerous times how appreciative she was for everything and everyone. With a big smile and tears of joy, Thomas offered her advice on life.
"Everybody try to do what is right to your neighbor," Thomas said.
Jeff Johnson, administrator at the Woodlands, presented Thomas with a proclamation from Leesville Mayor Robert Rose, establishing Feb. 24 as "Ms. Merrial Thomas Day" in Leesville. Johnson also read a statement from Governor Bobby Jindal stating that he, on behalf of the state, gives special recognition and acknowledgment of Ms.Thomas' 100th birthday. Johnson stated he is very proud and honored to be celebrating with Thomas on her special day.
Pastor Carolyn Anderson, Thomas' goddaughter, said it brought tears to her eyes when Frances Hatten, activity director at Woodlands, contacted her about the birthday party. She said it is a blessing that Ms. Thomas is so remarkable at 100 years old. Anderson also said her godmother has always been independent, living on her own for the past 50 years after her husband and two daughters passed away.
"She has always been very intelligent and held her own," Anderson said. "She can't move too much but if she were mobile, she would say I want to go home."
Ms. Thomas loves music and said she used to enjoy playing the piano. She said she taught herself how to play and then went on to teach others, including Anderson's sister. Ms. Thomas said she would still love to play if only she could see better, showing she still has her humor at age 100.
Hatten said all the residents are like family and they try to make every day special for everyone. She described Ms. Thomas as one of the sweetest ladies she knows who always has kind words to say.
"Ms. Thomas is an example of what our lives should be like," Hatten said.
Susan Winans demonstrated just how much the residents are family by making a pink, beaded necklace for Ms. Thomas that she wore during her party. Winans said she made it to match Ms. Thomas' dress.
"I appreciate being remembered," Ms. Thomas said.