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Centenarians celebrate birthdays in December

December is well known as the party month _ what with Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan and Kwanzaa, there's always a reason for a celebration.

But in 2000, December also has proved to be a very special month for birthdays _ at least for three Clearwater women: Mildred Eder and Galen Eskins of Bayview Pavilion and Gladys Craig of Regency Oaks. Each turned 100 this month.

When staff at Bayview Pavilion realized that two residents would celebrate that auspicious birthday, they decided this was more important than ordinary holiday activities. To honor both women, a big party was held at the facility Dec. 15.

Miss Eder was born Dec. 2, 1900, in Philadelphia. After completing high school, she went to work as a secretary. She never married, devoted her life to her work and was active in the Methodist church.

Even though today she has trouble remembering the past, she is a friendly and outgoing woman who says about reaching 100: "That seems so old _ I don't feel any different."

She does remember that she loved to travel, cook and crochet and do needlepoint. Baseball is still her favorite sport and chocolate is her favorite food.

Mrs. Eskins was born Dec. 22, 1900, in Portland, Ind. Her father was Dr. Rueben Brokaw, a prominent surgeon, and her mother, Lillian, was an artist. She had an older brother, Byron.

She remembers driving to Florida to visit her grandparents as a youngster and that her family was the first in Portland to boast a gasoline-powered automobile.

"Everyone in town came by the house to get a look at it," she said. "We would take them out for rides."

She moved to Cleveland at age 18 and worked many years as a secretarial clerk for Republic Steel. She married Glen Eskins in 1943 and after more than 20 years at the National Bank in Cleveland, she retired to the Clearwater area to be close to friends. She lived many years in Bayview Towers before moving into the nursing facility 18 months ago.

Mrs. Eskins' interests include cooking, knitting and crocheting, and, like Miss Eder, she is well traveled. She remains an avid reader, especially medical material. But now, with failing eyes, she enjoys "talking books" and a variety of music.

Her niece, Sandy Otto, came down from northeast Ohio to celebrate her birthday.

Mrs. Eskins offers this advice for a long and peaceful life: "Strive to make people feel comfortable around you."

Miss Craig was born Dec. 19, 1900, in Paterson, N.J. A resident at Regency Oaks for the past seven years, she first came here about 1950 when she brought her widowed mother to Florida for health reasons. Her father, Robert, was born in New York and was a Baptist minister in Dover, N.J., and Boise, Iowa, and her mother, Ida, was from Prince Island, Canada.

Like Miss Eder, she never married, dedicating her life to her work. A graduate of the University of Iowa, she owned and operated a medical testing laboratory in Dover for many years and locally worked with several physicians' offices.

Joining staff and residents at Regency Oaks to celebrate her milestone birthday were cousins Mary Jane Nappin and Dorothy Ott, and Mrs. Ott's husband; Harry, Barbara and Lula Wise, friends from Trinity Presbyterian Church; and Gayle Tomacan, hospice volunteer.

_ To submit an item to Good for You, write to Betsy Bolger-Paulet, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756, or call (727) 445-4176 Monday or Tuesday.

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