Bessie "Betty" Eva Eyster was treated to two parties in honor of her 100th birthday.
The first took place Aug. 3 at Clearwater's Normandy Park Oaks clubhouse with 27 family members from out of town and more than 40 friends.
Four days later, she partied with residents and staff at HarborChase of Palm Harbor, where she has been a resident for the past 2 ½ years.
Eyster was born Aug. 7, 1913, in Madison, Ohio, to clothing store owner Walter Winn Adlard and his wife, Sarah Eva, a homemaker active in the public school system. She was raised in the little township with three sisters, Mary Louise Woodworth, Ruth McClennan Uphause and Katherine Winn Green, all now deceased.
A member of Phi Beta Kappa, she graduated from Ohio's Kent State University in 1938 with a bachelor's degree in education.
She married the Rev. Dr. Walter C. Eyster on June 11, 1939, in Kent, Ohio. She utilized her degree by accepting a variety of educational positions, from teaching kindergarten to business-related classes at the high school level.
In 1961 she was recertified as an elementary teacher by Ohio State University.
Her husband retired in 1975 after 40 years in the Methodist ministry, and the couple moved to Washington, D.C. Retirement wasn't active enough for Eyster, so she took a secretarial job with the World Bank.
The couple moved into a condo in Normandy Park Oaks in 1978.
Eyster's husband died in 1991 after 52 years of marriage.
She has three children: John W. Eyster of Edgerton, Wisc.; James W. Eyster of Boulder, Colo.; and Jerry M. Eyster of Southport, Conn. She has six grandchildren: Beth Shore of Milton, Wisc.; Mark Eyster of Janesville, Wisc.; Tricia Lacy of Corte Madera, Calif.; Brian Eyster of Lyons, Colo.; Eleanor Fahrney of Buena Vista, Colo.; and Cyrus Eyster of Boston. She also has nine great-grandchildren: Jordan Shore; Zachary Shore; Elijah Eyster; Terry Eyster; Eva Lacy; Charlotte Lacy; Anna Lacy; Birch Eyster; and Jake Fahrney.
The centenarian is described by her family as an exuberant optimist who has demonstrated polite persistence throughout the years, playing life and games hard with the goal of winning. Eyster and her family view this milestone birthday as one of her definite wins.
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Three days a week, the 3Score Softball League, a group of players age 60 and older with a passion for the game, arrive at the Eddie C. Moore complex in Clearwater by 8:30 a.m. for practice sessions, followed by competition.
On Aug. 7, league members brought along a cake, which they presented to teammate Arthur Kelsey in honor of his 95th birthday.
The nonagenarian was excited and pleased by the gesture.
Kelsey, who was born Aug. 7, 1918, in Davenport, Iowa, has played ball all his life, including some time spent as a semi pro.
"He's very competitive," said middle infielder Bob Rittner of his elder teammate. "He's a smart pitcher and a good hitter, too. He hits line drives all over the place."
In 1998, an 80-year-old Kelsey pitched all seven games at the Kids and Kubs World Championship in Chicago, where his team came away with a win.
Kelsey joined 3Score in 1980, the same year he and Irene, his wife of 73 years, moved to Clearwater.
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On Aug. 6, parents and volunteers chaperoned more than 40 boys and girls as they picked out new backpacks and filled them with scissors, crayons, calculators and note pads as part of a back-to-school kick-off party at the Homeless Emergency Project's Community Center.
The event was made possible by donations from individuals in the community; a back-to-school drive hosted by Ice Cold Air in Clearwater; and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who donated backpacks designed with their smallest fans in mind during the team's annual Buc-Packs event.
Families enjoyed refreshments, and kids were treated to face painting, a magic show and a visit by Tampa Bay Rays mascot Raymond.
"It gives us an incredible feeling when the community gathers together to support our youth in such a meaningful way," said Zachary White, Homeless Emergency Project director of programs. "When working to break the cycle of homelessness, our children are the most important focus. Everyone who had a hand in this event helped to accomplish that goal by giving these kids the tools and confidence they need to be successful students."
The Homeless Emergency Project is one of the oldest and largest providers of emergency housing and support services in Pinellas County, offering emergency and transitional housing for the temporarily homeless, as well as permanent supportive housing for mentally disabled individuals, families with children and veterans.
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