In honor of her 100th birthday, Nellie Maude Nowell Jordan of Safety Harbor was the guest of honor at an open house March 23 at her former home in Clearwater. She was recognized at Calvary Baptist Church March 24 and celebrated her actual birthday March 27 with a party at Safety Harbor Senior Living, where she's been a resident for 10 months.
The centenarian received 61 birthday cards.
Born in 1913 in Colquitt, Ga., a small town just 20 miles north of the Florida state line, Jordan came into the world on a Sunday, delivered by a midwife while the expectant mother held a kerosene lantern. She was one of seven children born to Johnnie Vasco Free and Charles Tolbert Nowell.
"He was a businessman farmer," explained Jordan's daughter, India Gay. "He would sell chickens, produce, whatever was available. Times were tough. It was a hard-scrabble existence."
Jordan's formal education ended in 1927 when she was 14. A cousin contacted Colquitt High about arranging an honorary high school diploma for her and the school awarded it to the 95-year-old in 2008.
A brief marriage to fellow Georgian Anthony Bostick produced a daughter in 1928.
Jordan married Roy Morgan in 1936 and the couple had two daughters in 1940 and 1941. Her third and final marriage was in 1960 to Clearwater attorney Arthur W. Jordan. The couple divorced in 1965.
A 68-year resident of Clearwater, Jordan owned and operated Newton's Tailoring with three different locations in downtown Clearwater. She retired in 1979.
"She started sewing because that's all she knew to do," said Gay. "She needed to be independent and raise her daughters. Because of that she was very conscientious about saving money."
The mother of three built a home in 1955 on Commodore Street in Clearwater. At that time, according to her daughter, Jordan was the first female to be granted an FHA loan in Clearwater. She lived there until her 99th birthday.
Travel was an important part of Jordan's life. Starting around 1964, she would drive up the east coast to visit siblings in Georgia and the Washington, D.C./Arlington, Va., area. Some trips took her as far as Nova Scotia in her silver VW Karmann Ghia or Morris Minor convertible. She also made several forays to Europe with friends and family.
Gay says her mother believes in moderation in all things. She avoided doctors and medications and filled her life with daily walks and an active social life with friends and family.
Almost exactly a year ago, Jordan's right hip broke and she suffered a fall. A partial hip replacement was performed at Morton Plant Mease. Some months later, her left hip fractured, requiring a similar operation. She didn't need much time to recuperate and was up and around quickly.
Asked to describe her mother in a word, Gay was definitive. "Strong. She is one strong lady."
Jordan has a second daughter, June Webber, who lives in Altamonte Springs. Her daughter Dianna Morgan Bennett is deceased. Jordan also has eight grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.
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Nellie Havelick McCann of Palm Harbor achieved centenarian status April 1, the first in her family to reach that milestone. To celebrate, the 100-year-old played bingo with friends in Holiday, was the guest of honor at a dinner out with family, and received a birthday letter of congratulations from President Barack Obama.
She was born April 1, 1913 in Bridgeport, Conn., to Nicholas and Helen Havelick.
Bridgeport was also the location of her marriage to Wallace McCann on Sept. 4, 1944.
While in Connecticut, she worked for the A.C. Gilbert Co., an American toy company best known for introducing the Erector Set to the marketplace, and Macy's Department Store.
McCann's husband passed away in 1991 after 47 years of marriage. The following year, she moved to Palm Harbor.
She has an affinity for bingo, word puzzles, game shows and card games.
The centenarian's philosophy of life is simple: to have her health and happiness.
She has a daughter, Marilyn Muzyka; two grandsons, Peter Muzyka and Michael Muzyka; and three great-grandchildren, Patrick Muzyka, Maya Muzyka and Nathaniel Muzyka.
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The Chi Chi Rodriguez Academy announced that its Chi Chi Rodriguez Pro Am, which took place March 11 at Innisbrook Golf Resort as part of the PGA Tour's Tampa Bay Championship, raised $126,000 to help fund the academy's First Tee of Clearwater junior golf programs.
The event paired a PGA Tour pro playing in the Tampa Bay Championship with each foursome of sponsors. It was run by a committee including foundation board member Scott Curtis and Mark Carron, both of Raymond James.
The check was presented March 13 at Chi Chi Rodriguez Sports Complex, 3030 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater, by PGA Tour players Brian Harman and George McNeill, who also conducted a demonstration and question and answer session for academy students.
Chi Chi Rodriguez Academy is a dropout prevention partnership for grades 4-8 in collaboration with the City of Clearwater, Pinellas County School District and the First Tee of Clearwater.
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