Wilma Louise (Smith) Overpeck celebrated her 100th birthday on June 30.
Louise was born in the Bismarck area and has many relatives around Danville. She was a medical transcriptionist for many years at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, retiring in 1985.
She has been residing at Autumn Trace Assisted Living Facility near Attica, Ind., for three years, and since March 17, she has been in lock-down. She has been visiting her family through her front window in the colder months, and on warm days sitting on her enclosed porch with the family at a distance on the other side of the screen. Her birthday plans had to be changed — no big party with family.
Instead, her birthday started with a surprise visit from her granddaughters and the placing of 100 pinwheels on her lawn and writing on her windows, then visits from nieces and nephews (on the porch). Next, there was a party at Autumn Trace with a spectacular cake by Marylin Moore, activities director. Later, a special birthday parade was enjoyed by all the residents, with Louise as the guest of honor and a 100th tiara.
West Lebanon Fire and Rescue Department participated in the parade. Louise said, “My hometown really came through for me.”
The Warren County Commissioners renamed Louise’s former West Sixth Street in West Lebanon to Louise Overpeck Boulevard, where two of her former homes are located. Commissioner Brian Jordan in his black Model-T delivered her street sign in style. Dick and Mary Hay, longtime friends, made an appearance in his red vintage automobile.
Next came about 40 decorated cars with balloons, signs and streamers, driven by family and friends from the West Lebanon Christian Church, former West Lebanon neighbors, more nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews from Danville, Ill., and family as far as Carmel, Ind., and Chicago.
The parade participants were greeted with a booklet celebrating Louise’s 100 years with pictures of her life and interesting facts of the time. They also were given one of her fresh-baked sugar cookies. Louise said, “I have made thousands of those cookies.”
The parade participants could briefly pause in front of Louise and tell her hello and happy birthday, and see an enlarged photo of her at age 23. She sent that photo to her special friend, Robert L. Overpeck, in the Navy during World War II. June 30, 2020, would have been their 74th wedding anniversary. He passed away on July 3, 2013.
Louise was touched by the number of people who took time on a hot evening to decorate their cars with signs, make a quick stop, send flowers, give her a gift, including 120-plus people who sent a birthday cards.
Talking about her 100 years, Louise said, “I had a loving family and childhood, a happy marriage, always went to church and for the most part watched what I ate.” She does a daily Bible study, keeps up with current events, talks to family and friends on the phone and Facetime and is currently writing her family history. She enjoys talking to people and recalling past events and is planning to put together a cookbook of her favorite recipes.
“I still feel the same inside as I did at 16!” she said.
Her family, Randy and Jane Haddock, Jill and Conor Eberly and Amanda Haddock appreciated the special events for her, and Louise looks forward to the time when the rest of the family, Curt, Carol, Matt, and Elizabeth Overpeck, are able to visit from Florida.
If would like to send her a card, her address is: 1287 E. Main St, No. 105, Attica, IN 47918.