Salvation Army marks regular's 90th birthday

Saturday, July 28, 2007
Lolline "Rosie" Daniels blew out her birthday candles Friday during the Salvation Army's Meal with Friends. (Kit Doyle)

The woman who celebrated her 90th birthday Friday at the Salvation Army is known only as Rosie to her friends there.

She's not shy about her real name, Lolline Daniels. A neighbor dubbed her "Rosie" after she moved to Cape Girardeau in 1993.

"I said, 'Just don't call me late to eat,'" Daniels said, grinning.

For her party, she wore yellow shorts and a cotton top with a row of embroidered flowers, knee-high socks, sandals and a sparkling butterfly crown on her head. Rosie has been a regular at the end-of-month Meals with Friends program for as along as any of the volunteers can remember, at least a decade.

Daniels has no reservations about turning 90. "You do not find many 90-year-olds who will admit" their age, she said. "They'll say they're 89."

After a bite of her turkey salad sandwich, she talked about her past.

She was born and raised in Commerce, Mo., at a time when men built their own homes and dug their own wells, she said. Women cooked and sewed and "had a baby every nine months," she said. She might have too, but her husband died.

"He's been gone so long I don't even remember his name," she said, half jokingly. She has a paper somewhere in her apartment listing the dates her parents, two brothers and four of her five sisters died.

"I don't dwell on it," she said.

After her husband died, she moved to Detroit, living near a sister and serving meals at the Allen Park Veterans Administration Hospital. When that sister died, Daniels moved to Chicago and worked at a dry cleaning shop. She saved enough money for retirement, she said, and paid cash for a mobile home in Commerce, where she retired at age 65.

After the 1993 flood destroyed her home, she moved to a Linden Street apartment in Cape Girardeau.

Salvation Army Majors Ben and Beth Stillwell organized the party when they learned Daniels was turning 90. They ordered two sheet cakes, one chocolate, one vanilla, and a cluster of floating balloons. They put a new large-print Bible in a festive gift bag. A smaller bag held a necklace.

"She always has a smile on her face," Beth Stillwell said. "You never hear a negative word from her. She's always uplifting and tells people, 'Don't get discouraged.'"

The Salvation Army hosts Meals with Friends at its Independence Street building during the last week of each month. Volunteers serve dinners from food donated by area businesses such as Olive Garden, Schnucks and Red Lobster. The meals help people stretch low incomes, Beth Stillwell said, and gives those who live alone a chance for fellowship.

As Daniels ate, people came by her table, offering birthday wishes and hugs. One friend slipped folded-up cash into her palm as he shook her hand.

Ben Stillwell draped colorful plastic beaded necklaces on Daniels head as he congratulated her on turning 90, then kissed her cheek.

"I don't get a lot of kisses," she said, looking up at him. "Can I have some more?"

Laughter bubbled up from the nearly 50 people in the room.

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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