SAN MARCOS — San Marcos resident Velma Turley recently celebrated her 100th birthday. Born on March 2, 1909, she can tell stories of both World Wars, of the Depression and of amazing changes that have made life easier, more compassionate and much busier. Still healthy and sharp-minded, Turley credits a natural hardiness required of anyone born in Minnesota, coupled with the easier lifestyle of California. Those who know her well suspect that her longevity has something to do with her positive attitude and complete acceptance of whatever life has had to offer.
Turley continued to drive her car and sing in the church choir well into her 90s, and was always the new neighbor greeter and the one ready for an uplifting chat. Neighbors were used to seeing her walk by, whether zipping along in her younger years as if she were an athlete, or later on when she became more dependent on a cane. She is adamant about getting out with people, breathing fresh air and making sure she has plenty of exercise, and only recently has done so without her ladylike trademarks of earrings and hosiery.
She remained in her home of more than 30 years in the Altamira neighborhood in Carlsbad until she suffered a bad fall at the age of 97. More for the peace of mind of others than her own concern, she decided it would be safer to give up some independence in exchange for ready assistance. She has lived at Brookdale in San Marcos for the last 2.5 years.
Turley enjoyed her birthday with dinners and visits with friends, a special celebration after services at Christ Presbyterian Church and a day of special recognition at Brookdale. She then visited her old neighborhood to see a tree that had been planted in her honor a year earlier. A spread of food was put out for everyone to share as families gathered to celebrate with her. Children made signs to express their sentiments toward Velma and painted rocks to create the border around her tree. Flowers and balloons were delivered and gifts brought in honor of the milestone occasion. Even Turley’s favorite neighborhood dog recognized her and urged her to play an old familiar game.
While Turley acknowledged that she thoroughly enjoyed her current living arrangements, she became nostalgic for the sound of youngsters laughing, and for sharing the energy of young adults and the companionship of people with whom she had a long history. It was also obvious that all ages had missed her presence, as revelers vied for her attention to catch up and reminisce. Eventually weary, she said her goodbyes and took her gifts and memories back to her Brookdale home, as her old friends wished her well and thanked her for the grace she left behind.