Anna Belt, celebrating her 100th birthday at Sunset Villa, Wednesday, speaks with her son, John, who is currently in Germany, while grandaughter Sheila Patzkie holds the phone. Mark Wilson Photo
As New Mexico celebrates 100 years of statehood, Sunset Villa Care Center commemorated Wednesday the 100 years of one of its residents.
Anna Belt sat surrounded by five generations of family, friends and other facility residents who came to honor her and wish her well. The facility provided the group with refreshments, including cake, as well as balloons and a bag of goodies for the birthday girl.
Nancy Perez, Sunset Villa’s activity director, said the center hosts celebrations for all its residents and to recognize someone 100 years old was especially special “because they’ve lived a century, seen a lot of changes and have a lot of history behind them.”
“That’s an odd number these days for people to hit,” she said. “For me, I think it’s important to make them feel like they’re still important.
“It’s a blessing to be able to give them another year of celebration and meaning to their day.”
Perez said that Belt is one of three residents the facility has had, in her time, to reach 100 years of age, with the oldest being 103.
“It’s overwhelming to think that she would live this long,” said daughter Nancy Kilgore. “She’s about as old as New Mexico,” she said. “But I think New Mexico is nine months older than her.”
Born in Pennsylvania, Belt and her family lived in the Midwest before moving to Clovis and eventually Roswell.
Kilgore said her mother had been active in several activities throughout her life, enjoying games of horseshoe, pool and shuffleboard. She also played tambourine in a band at the J.O.Y. Center during the ’80s.
Kilgore said her mother has never had a broken bone or needed surgery of any kind.
Perez said while Belt couldn’t remember all of her 100 years, she still cares deeply for her children and asks for them frequently.
“She’s just a really, really sweet lady,” Perez said.
Perez also said Kilgore commits to being there for her mother, from participating in activities at the center to accompanying her mother to doctor’s appointments.
“She’s very dedicated and loyal to the well-being of her mother,” Perez said.
Belt has had four other children; her son, James Belt, and daughter, Betty Rodriguez, also were in attendance. Another of her sons called from Germany.
James and Rodriguez recalled fond memories of working and living on their family’s farm with their mom.
“She’s a wonderful mother — very caring and loving,” Rodriguez said. “She took good care of us and she was a hard worker.”
Rodriguez said they lost their father in 1974, at the age of 64, and it was amazing to see her mother reach such a milestone.
“And she don’t look no 100,” she said.