Centenarian Recollects Chapters From Book Of 100 Years

Family, Friends Walk Down Memory Lane

July 18, 1991|By Jennifer Keats | Jennifer Keats,Contributing writer

The birthday girl sat in the seat of honor, clad in a silver "Happy Birthday" tiara. A corsage was pinned to her white sweater and a bouquet of pink and green balloons was tied to her wheelchair.

On Saturday, Georgianna Roberta Seward Thursby, better known as Bertie, turned 100.

The centenarian celebrated her birthday Sunday at North Arundel Convalescent Center with about 80 friends, relatives and residents.

"It's amazing; it's old," said Thursby's great grandchild, Chrissy Franklin, 11.

"It's real old," added her sister, Jennifer, 9.

"Not many people get to be 100," said daughter-in-law Shirley Luczynski, 64, of Pasadena.

Luczynski helped three of the five remaining grandchildren organize Sunday's festivities. Several of the nine great-grandchildren attended.

Rather than requesting gifts, the grandchildren asked people who knew Thursby to send her birthday cards. About70 cards were received, coming as far away as Florida and Georgia but as near as the White House.

As the party wound down, many relatives gathered around a photo board to take another look at some of theevents of Thursby's past century.

A large picture of the graduating Eastern High School class of 1909 decorated the top of the board. In the second row, sixth on the left, the young Thursby, with her dark hair pulled back in a loose bun, sat amid more than 90 other women,dressed similarly in white shirts and long skirts.

"She was very proud of her graduation," said Luczynski. "The president of the alumni association sent her a (birthday) card."

Other photos on the board included a picture of Thursby in front of her first car. The photowas dated 1919 and the car stood at least a foot taller than Thursby.

"Cute bathing suits, aren't they?" granddaughter Karen Thursby Franklin commented, as she stood looking at a picture of Thursby and her husband, John, at the Atlantic City beach in 1914.

The picture board would not have been complete without a photo of Thursby's favorite dog, a chow named Ching.

"I'm not sure which one that is, Ching I or II; that dog was her life," Franklin said.

Another interesting part of Thursby's heritage included a photo of her father, GeorgeLittleton Seward. One of Seward's relatives was William A. Seward, secretary of state under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson and the man who negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia.

"She's a really funny woman," said Luczynski, who has known Thursby since the 1940s. "She was very active at Wilson Memorial Church (in Baltimore) and I remember she would sit at home for hours cutting out canceled postage stamps -- but every once in a while she would comes across ones that weren't canceled and she would keep them."

Luczynski also remembered a story about a voyage Thursby took with her husband from Seattle to Baltimore in 1949. Thursby joined her husband, who was secretary and treasurer of the Maryland Bay Pilot Association, on the ship, the Felicia, for the business trip.

"Women didn't even go on boats then, but she went with him," said Luczynski.

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