By Liz Premo, Atlantic News Staff Writer
Atlantic News, Friday, May 6, 2005
[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News]
[Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo]
BRENTWOOD -- "When I was five years old, I was called the 'boy with the smile,'" declared Hampton's Singing Cop, William Elliot, surrounded by friends and family last week in a bustling community room at the Rockingham County Nursing Home.
Ninety-five years later, that smile was still going strong as Elliot prepared to celebrate his 100th birthday, an amazing milestone that was observed by many at the nursing home on Thursday, April 28 (his actual birth date) and at the United Methodist Church of Hampton the following Sunday.
At the former, the guest of honor was greeted with generous amounts of hugs, kisses and handshakes as everyone came up to offer their birthday wishes. Spirited and spry, the good-natured centenarian heartily welcomed each and every one of them.
"Good to see you again," he told them. "Thanks for coming!"
Among the first was Guy Larivee, who brought birthday wishes from Hampton Boy Scout Troop 177 and from Scout Master Doug Aykroyd. "It's a great troop; it always has been," said Elliot, who was later honored by the troop at the Sunday gathering.
Family members joined in as well — including son Wayne and his wife Betty; daughter June and her husband Dick Chevalier; and daughter Holly and her husband Larry Knowles. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren also took part in the festivities.
"You look good!" grandson Richie Elliot told his grandfather.
"Well, I feel fine!" his grandfather responded.
Then, when Richie observed, "Those 100 years have done you well," Elliot told him, "I'm already to start the next 100!" He went on to remind others close by that "it's a birthday you only hit once in your life; then you start all over again."
"He doesn't seem like he's 100, does he?" chuckled one guest.
"It's a wonderful milestone," commented June.
"We're proud, excited, and happy for him," said Holly.
"We're blessed — really blessed," said David, another grandson.
Hampton's Singing Cop went on to tell another guest who had just revealed her age that she "shouldn't feel old at 65; it's just the beginning of life!"
In honor of the once-in-a-lifetime occasion, Wayne read a formal birthday proclamation issued by New Hampshire Governor John Lynch. A delegation of Masons, led by David Lamprey (Acting Grand Master for the Grand Lodge F&AM of NH) presented a plaque commemorating Elliot's memorable milestone. A Mason for more than 70 years and a member of St. James Lodge #102 in Hampton, Elliot humbly acknowledged the honors.
"Thank you, Governor — and all the rest of you for coming," he said. "God bless you all; you've been marvelous to me."
Elliot also expressed his appreciation for those who have made him feel so welcome at the Rockingham County Nursing Home, where he has resided for the past several years.
"I've enjoyed my life and I've enjoyed being here," he said. "As long as I can't be home (on Dearborn Avenue in Hampton), this is the place to be. People here are awfully good to me."
There is no doubt that the Elliot family ties are deep and still going strong. "The family keeps dropping in to see me," he said. "I've got a big family and they love me. It makes all the difference in the world." Elliot also took a tender moment to remember his dear wife of 77 years, Alzena, who passed away last September at age 97.
"We had a good life together," he said. "I miss her."
The sweet occasion was made even sweeter when it came time for him to cut into a white-frosted sheet cake with a little assistance from Audrey Seymour, a social worker with Rockingham County. True to his musical roots, he led everyone in a chorus of "Happy Birthday [to me!]" before announcing, "Everybody, go over and help yourself to cake!"
As the festivities wound down, Elliot announced, "I want to say thank you for coming; you're a great bunch. I love you!" He also took time to wax somewhat philosophical about becoming another year older. "It doesn't matter how old you are," said Elliot. "If you enjoy life you're a fortunate person. I'm one of them."
[Atlantic News Photos by Liz Premo]