Advocate for elderly turns 100

January 26, 1996|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,SUN STAFF

Florence Bain, the woman who inspired the senior center in west Columbia that bears her name, turns 100 today amid praise by Howard County officials for her work on behalf of Howard County's older residents.

To celebrate the milestone of the county Office on Aging's founder, county officials and senior groups plan to send Mrs. Bain flowers and a proclamation. The widow and mother of two lives in a nursing home in Rockville.

"She's really left us a legacy," said Arleen Kvech, director of Florence Bain Senior Center in Columbia's Village of Harper's Choice. "It's amazed me that she was doing such significant work in her 70s and 80s at a time when people say, 'Well, I can relax' or 'I have paid my dues.' That wasn't Mrs. Bain's approach."

To honor her, the senior center's staff will offer slices of birthday cake to its visitors.

Mrs. Bain -- who retired at age 88 -- moved to Columbia in 1967. She discovered there were plenty of services for young families "and nothing for the elderly," said Manus O'Donnell, director of the county's Department of Citizen Services.

Determined to get more services for seniors, Mrs. Bain approached Columbia's developer, James W. Rouse, that same year to have him set aside space for the county's first senior center.

A year later -- at the age of 72 -- she formed and was chairwoman of the Commission on Aging. She also organized the first Howard County chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons and co-founded the Columbia Birthday Celebration.

In 1981, Mr. Rouse provided a parcel of land on Beaverkill Road for a senior center. It opened in 1983. Today, Florence Bain Senior Center offers services to about 150 visitors daily, said Ms. Kvech.

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