In a century of living, Jean Buford has clearly seen a lot.
But even she was overwhelmed by the turnout for her 100th birthday party Thursday, May 11, at the Parker County Senior Center. A crowd of about 200 in attendance joined the Webster Brothers (Don and John) in singing happy birthday, among other activities to show their love for their favorite centenarian, who hit the century mark the next day.
"I'm overcome. You just don't know how much I appreciate this," Jean told the crowd. "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"
Jean is generally considered an inspiration for anyone who knows her. She lives by herself, still drives, goes to church each Sunday, and she volunteers at nursing facilities and enjoys coming to the Senior Center regularly for fellowship.
"My license is good for one more year," Jean said. "I have a 2002 Buick and it doesn't even have 40,000 miles on it."
Judging from the love that was in the room, odds are a collection could be taken up to get Jean a new car if she changed her mind.
The day's activities also included a proclamation from Weatherford Mayor Paul Paschall, a reading of a letter from Governor Greg Abbott, and the presentation of a flag from State Senator Phil King's office.
And for anyone who might think Jean is frail at her age, Jennifer Bledsoe, Director of Operations for Parker County Committee on Aging, told a story indicating otherwise. She said Jean fell recently and it was suggested she go to the hospital for stitches, to which Jean replied, "I don't need stitches. I'll just have to come back and have them taken out."
"This woman is the most amazing woman. You inspire me so much," Bledsoe said.
"When you grew up in the depression, you ate meat loaf," Jean said.
Many came forward to have their picture taken with Jean, who was presented with a crown. It's the second time in a month she's been crowned as she was also the queen at the recent Senior Prom at the Parker County Sheriff's Posse Event Center.
A group of students from Weatherford Christian School dressed up as Rosie the Riveter in her honor. Among the many accomplishments in her life, Jean was a World War II Navy WAVE. A couple of the many well-wishing posters hanging up in the Senior Center referred to her as the "Original Rosie the Riveter."
"She's become very dear to me. She went to (Texas) Tech and I did as well, so we started with that in common," said her good friend and Senior Center volunteer Mendy Billingsley. "She's a beautiful person. I've never met anyone else like her and I'm sure I never will again. She's just Jean."
"She's a great inspiration. Something really neat is my son, who turns 19 tomorrow, shares her birthday," she said.
A special surprise for Jean was the arrival of her daughter Annie Stephenson and son-in-law J.D. Stephenson.
"My kids weren't supposed to be here until Friday," said an excited Jean. "I'm ecstatic. I knew they (Senior Center) were going to do a little something, but not this!"
Jo Saunders, also a Senior Center volunteer, has known Jean for a couple years. She said Jean is the epitome of getting everyone you can out of life for as long as you can.
A special highlight was when the Webster Brothers dedicated the hymn "How Great Thou Art" to Jean and the audience joined in singing.
"I think Jean is an inspiration and an example of God's blessings in our lives," Don Webster said. "We are honored to be able to celebrate her 100th birthday.”
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