Vernon’s newest centenarian knew 10 years ago that she’d live to be 100, and on Friday, her affirmation came true.
Blanche Schley celebrated her 100th birthday on Saturday in the dining hall of Heritage Square in Vernon, surrounded by three generations of family members.
“What can I say, I love them all,” Schley said.
Schley was born in Saskatchewan on Nov. 29, 1919. A century later, her nine great grandchildren, three grandchildren, two daughters and one son came to celebrate the milestone with her.
Schley is used to having a lot of family around, and she’s made a point of keeping it that way throughout her life. She had five brothers and two sisters herself, and in 1950, when her brothers were apart from her, she told herself, “I’m going to go to Vancouver because my brothers are there.” When her daughter said it was time to leave New Westminster with her kids and come to the Vernon area, Schley said “we’re going, too.”
Schley had worked as a seamstress at a hospital back in Saskatoon and quickly found a job at a hospital in B.C. Life moved fast in the 50s: in 1952 she met her husband at a dance. By 1953 they were married, and by 1955 her son, Ken Sohley, was born.
“She never had a driver’s licence,” Sohley said. “She was a stay-at-home mom and she was just great for us as kids.”
He said she made sure her three children were always well-fed, and their clothes were always spotless and, of course, free of holes.
“She could mend anything, so all of my jeans had patches on them,” he said with a laugh.
Schley’s daughter, Patti MacLeod, has similar memories of her mother’s sewing prowess.
“I have fond memories of her sewing all our barbie doll clothes,” she said.
“She was a very happy person. She was the stable mom, and when you grow older you realize what they did for you.”
It wasn’t a birthday wish per se, but Schley did have one request of Heritage Square, a place that’s treated her well for 16 years.
“I must tell them if I still stay here, I’ll have to have a different bed!” she said while in a touch of discomfort from her night’s sleep. She’s not on any medication and is remarkably healthy for her age despite having a family history of kidney problems. She also has an unwillingness to be told what she should or shouldn’t eat, but that’s only reasonable. Besides, who is going to tell a 100-year-old they haven’t been eating right?