More than 130 guests from as far away as Canada filled the Aloha Hall at Teakwood East Mobile Home Park in Largo on Sept. 11 to celebrate the 100th birthday of Dot Fowler Van Zandt.
"I gave the party in appreciation for all the kindnesses and encouragement I have received from so many people," explained Van Zandt, who enjoyed musical numbers performed by friends as well as 25 members of the Pinellas Park High School marching band who stepped up with their instruments to serenade the centenarian.
She was born Sept. 11, 1913, in Rochester, N.Y.
"I have been very blessed with good health," said the youngest of eight siblings, "and have only been in a hospital one night in my entire life."
After graduating from East High in Rochester and attending a commercial school, she worked as a membership and campaign secretary for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in the Eastman Theater. There, she saw stars like Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Victor Borge and Liberace perform.
She and husband, Donald, a law librarian, were married for almost 58 years before his death at age 85.
In 1978, the couple moved from Rochester to Country Park, a mobile home park in Clearwater.
Thankful for her long life and all the beautiful people who have crossed her path and become her friends, Van Zandt said: "Life can be good when you reach 100."