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Amherst woman receives Boston Post cane as town’s oldest resident

  • Marion Williams gets a look at the Boston Post Gold Cane as Rob Claflin, the executive director of Applewood Retirement Community in Amherst, holds it during a party celebrating her 100th birthday, Monday at Applewood. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Marion Williams receives a pin from Nancy Pagano, who is the Amherst Senior Center director, during a party celebrating her 100th birthday, Monday, April 16, 2018 at Applewood Retirement Community in Amherst. She is holding the Boston Post Gold Cane, which was presented to her during the party. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Marion Williams gets a look at her birthday cake as Kelley Murphy, right, holds it during a party celebrating her 100th birthday, Monday, April 16, 2018 at Applewood Retirement Community in Amherst. Her son, Eric Oxboel, looks on. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Marion Williams receives a corsage from Maryellen Douville, the residential concierge, during a party celebrating her 100th birthday, Monday, April 16, 2018 at Applewood Retirement Community in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Rob Claflin, left, who is the executive director of Applewood Retirement Community in Amherst, holds the Boston Post Gold Cane as Eric Oxboel, Lynne Oxboel and Kirsten Oxboel, who are the son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter of Marion Williams, look at it during a party celebrating Williamms' 100th birthday, Monday, April 16, 2018 at Applewood. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Marion Williams, right, receives congratulations from Joan Lindeman during a party celebrating her 100th birthday, Monday, April 16, 2018 at Applewood Retirement Community in Amherst. The Boston Post Gold Cane, which was presented to her during the party, rests beside her. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Kelley Murphy, top, who is the resident services director at Applewood Retirement Community in Amherst, joins others in singing "Happy Birthday" to Marion Williams, left, during a party celebrating her 100th birthday, Monday, April 16, 2018 at Applewood Retirement Community in Amherst. Immediate family members are, in the front row, from right: Lynne Oxboel, Eric Oxboel, Margie Budd and Mark Budd. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Marion Williams, right, receives congratulations from Maryjane Menendez during a party celebrating her 100th birthday, Monday, April 16, 2018 at Applewood Retirement Community in Amherst. The Boston Post Gold Cane, which was presented to her during the party, rests beside her. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS



Staff Writer
Monday, April 16, 2018

AMHERST — As her 100th birthday approached, Marion Williams asked the staff at Applewood Retirement Community, where she has lived for the past decade, not to make a big deal out of reaching the milestone.

So on Monday afternoon, only about 50 of her family and friends were on hand to mark the occasion, joined by a handful of town officials who came to honor Williams as Amherst’s oldest resident with a presentation of the Boston Post Gold Cane.

“I’ve never had a day like this in my life,” Williams said, smiling as she was greeted by well-wishers.

“I’m overcome,” Williams said. “I love seeing everybody. I can’t believe all these people I know.”

Senior Center Director Nancy Pagano said the presentation marked the 22nd time the gold-tipped, ebony cane, provided to communities across New England by the newspaper’s editor, has been awarded to Amherst’s oldest qualifying resident. Phyllis Pennell held the cane from last July until she died in January.

Williams is the oldest eligible person who has lived in town for a decade and whose name has been in the town street list for at least 10 years. Williams moved to Applewood in 2008.

Select Board Chairman Douglas Slaughter gave Williams the “Amherst Longevity Award” plaque and a gold cane pin, both of which she can keep, while Williams can use the cane for several days before it is returned to the Senior Center. Select Board member Andy Steinberg and Council on Aging Chairman Dan Clapp also offered their congratulations.

Kelley Murphy, residential services director, called Williams “a wonderful resident, always pleasant, always smiling, always outside in the sun.”

Murphy said that Williams had told him to keep the event low key. “Not everyone’s here, so it’s small,” Murphy said.

Applewood Executive Director Rob Claflin gave Williams the Applewood Apple and feted her with a special corsage that he attached to her lime green jacket, and presented a cake with the phrase “Happy 100th Birthday, Marion.”

“Happy 100 years of age,” Claflin said. “That is a miracle.”

Williams attributes reaching her centennial to being happy and enjoying the company of her family and friends.

“There is no secret except be happy. I’m a happy person,” Williams said.

Born in White Plains, New York, Williams worked professionally as a librarian for 27 years. She has three children, daughter Margie Budd of Ashburn, Virginia and sons Eric Oxboel of Mount Kisco, New York and Donald Williams of Northampton, along with 10 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Oxboel said his family arrived on Saturday and found his mother sitting outdoors, enjoying the sunny and warm day. The celebrations then began with dinner at the Lord Jeffery Inn that evening, and a brunch on Sunday.

“It’s been a great place here,” Oxboel said. “She’s thrived here.”

So much that it was never a question if she would reach her 100th birthday.

“We always thought she would make it. She’s so strong,” Oxboel said.

The only disappointing aspect of her birthday was the morning sleet and the continued heavy rain that prevented her from getting outside to enjoy the sun. But even that didn’t faze Williams, who expressed appreciation for the recognition. “I’ll never forget this day, that’s for sure,” Williams said. “I feel so lucky to be here.”

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.