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Two Chicago women mark 100 with a sense of style

Reaching 100 hasn't slowed two Chicago-born women who still like to party, dance and, yes, bowl.

Wearing a sparkly red hat, Luella (Hefner) Kerr whirled around the floor at her milestone birthday party Jan. 18 at Edinborough Healthcare Center in Dunedin. But this was really no big thing to the Chicago native, who was a marathon dancer and retired only five years ago.

She received the Silver Hat award as the oldest worker in Pinellas when she retired in 1998 from the front desk of the Casa Magil in Clearwater, an adult living facility where she lived and worked since coming to this area in 1985.

While she was born in the Windy City on Jan. 18, 1904, Louella Hefner grew up on a farm in Sibley, Ill., where she did her share of the chores _ particularly feeding and milking the cows. Every day she rode an old horse named Sam to the mailbox a quarter-mile from the house.

She received her education in a little red schoolhouse. As she got older, she worked as a masseuse with her mother, who was a homeopathic healer.

As a young woman, she moved to Bloomington, Ill., where she attended Brown's Business College. After graduation she worked as a secretary until 1929, when she married Joseph Kerr.

The marriage lasted 10 years and the couple had two sons, Earl and Art.

After that, she went back to work. She was a waitress-bookkeeper-hostess and general manager at the Green Mill Cafe in Bloomington and she returns from time to time for special parties and reunions with her co-workers and friends.

In 1985, she moved to this area and went to work at the front desk of the Casa Magil until 1998.

Her fondest memories are of her days as a marathon dancer. She once stayed on the dance floor for 18 days to win the contest _ with only a one-hour break every 24 hours and a few minutes to the bathroom or to eat.

She has four grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, and five great-great-grandchildren and continues to be active at the adult living center. She moved to Edinborough nearly a year ago from Casa Magil. Her favorite things to do are dance and bowl.

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Genevieve Behel also likes to dance and party. Her 100th birthday was celebrated on Jan. 8 with friends at Barrington Terrace in Largo, where she has lived for a year.

Born Jan. 15, 1904, in Chicago, she was the daughter of John Moran, a New York City book publisher, and Jenny Harrison, a registered nurse who came from Ontario.

In 1942 she married Wesley A. Behel, a colonel in the Air Force and traveled the world. She says her favorite place is still Europe. She studied music and specialized in voice. The couple had been married 50 years when he died in 1992.

While the Behels had no children, she was surrounded by youngsters for 35 years as a kindergarten teacher. She says that she "loves well-behaved children."

She has been in Florida for 10 years but was a visitor here most of her life.

Her philosophy on life is "make sure you laugh and smile every day."

_ For information or an anniversary form, call 445-4109. To submit an item to Good for You, write to Betsy Bolger-Paulet, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756, send fax to 445-4119 or e-mail to