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British Air Force veteran celebrates 102nd birthday

The University of the Fraser Valley recognized Dr. Jean Scott's 102nd birthday today at the Lynwood in Chilliwack, BC. (Rick Collins/WikiCommons)

Cecily Geraghty has been a New Year’s baby 102 times.

Born on Jan. 1, 1920, in England, Geraghty said Thursday she has no secrets to achieving the designation of centenarian.

“I take a cup of boiling water every day. That’s the only thing I do,” she said Thursday at The Landing at Queensbury, where she’s lived for the past 13 years.

Geraghty, who served in the British Air Force in World War II, turned 102 on Saturday, but celebrated her birthday with her nursing home friends at The Landing on Thursday.

She was showered with applause, a round of “Happy Birthday,” a cake, crown, sash and a glass of ginger ale.

In a prayer during her surprise birthday celebration Thursday, retired pastor Joe Anselment described Geraghty as “one constant blessing among us.”

“I think I’m the oldest here,” said a proud Geraghty.

Geraghty was born in in Birkenhead, a town in the borough of Wirral, Cheshire, England. At age 21, she joined Her Majesty’s Air Force and served her country for five years.

“I was with the pilots,” she said. “I took care of them.”

Geraghty, who is very proud of her military service, said she had a “wonderful time” looking after the pilots during World War II.

After her stint in the service, she worked for Lever Brothers Company, a prominent soap factory in England, for 10 years.

She met her future husband, Michael, who had already obtained papers to immigrate to the United States to join his brothers and sisters.

“Then when he met me, he didn’t want to go,” she recalled. “I said, ‘You go. You come back, and I’ll still be here.’ So he went. Then my mother said to me, ‘There’s nobody else for you. You go.'”

She didn’t have the money to join him, so a family from Manhasset, Long Island, sponsored her trip. In exchange, she had to serve the family as a nanny for one year. The boat she was supposed to take to America was on strike, so she flew in a plane.

After her year as a nanny was up, she married Michael in Great Neck.

“They all came to my wedding,” she said. “They were beautiful people.”

Cecily and Michael were married 40 years and had two sons. She still has a large family made up of grandchildren, great-grandchildren and special friends, including the Quaresima family.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on her life the last two years. Some of her family members couldn’t attend her party Thursday because they tested positive. Her nephew recently died from the virus.

“This last two years, it’s been very bad,” she said.

But Geraghty said overall she has had a wonderful life. She spends her days feeding the birds, zipping around the nursing home with her walker and watching sports — all sports. In fact, she threw out the puck during an Adirondack Thunder hockey game two years ago when she turned 100 years old.

“She runs around this place,” said Stephanie Smith, executive director of The Landing. “If she’s coming at you, you move out of the way.”

Geraghty is vocal in resident council meetings, attends church every week and gets a manicure every Monday. A former ballroom dancer, Geraghty is still very light on her feet.

“Everyone here knows Cecily,” Smith said to the partygoers Thursday. “And we all know that she keeps everybody smiling and she keeps our birds fat.”

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