Themed "Pillars of Our Community," Prince George's County's 18th annual Centenarian Celebration was held May 8 at the Laurel-Beltsville Senior Activity Center. The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Department of Parks and Recreation hosted the luncheon and ceremony, with 224 in attendance. The event was appropriately held during Older Americans Month, marking 50 years since it was established by President John F. Kennedy.
Attendees were welcomed by Kofi Impraim, master of ceremonies and director of Laurel-Beltsville Senior Activity Center; Ronnie Gathers, director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, Prince George's County; and Nicholas Majett from the office of County Executive Rushern Baker III.
Of the eight 100-year-olds honored, two were from Laurel: Daisy Mae Miller and Christianne Dumorne.
Originally from Gibson, N.C., Miller lived in Washington, D.C., from 1962 to 2002, where she worked as a domestic and nurse's aide. In 2002, she moved to Laurel to live with her daughter, Lois Stansbury, because of health reasons. Stansbury and Miller's son, Broadus Miller, brought Miller to the celebration.
"My mother would attribute her longevity to her parents; her father lived to age 102 and her mother to age 99," Stansbury said.
Miller was one of 10 children; six of her siblings lived to be between 85 to 94 years old. Her advice to "younger" older adults would be to love yourself, eat right, put God first and respect your elders. In her younger years, she liked to crochet, read, write and garden, and she was a basketball star in high school.
Miller had six children and counts eight grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren.
Born in Haiti, Dumorne has lived in the United States for 50 years, in Brooklyn, N.Y, Silver Spring and Riverdale before moving to Laurel 23 years ago. She speaks Creole and a little English, and worked as a shoemaker, crafting shoes and handbags. Her granddaughter, Nadine Fonrose, of Laurel, spoke for Dumorne at the celebration.
"My grandmother would attribute her longevity to her diet," said Fonrose.
Dumorne is still active, fixing her own breakfast. Fonrose said her grandmother keeps a strict schedule, including a warm glass of milk at 7 p.m. each evening before bedtime. She eats no carbohydrates but does eat bland foods, especially chicken and shrimp, eats very few vegetables and drinks black coffee.
Fonrose said her grandmother's advice to others is to bring laughter into their lives, even to deal with life's changes, and to not stress out.
"In 1915, the year my grandmother was born, Americans came to Haiti," Fonrose said. "Her father was ill and the American missionaries nursed him back to health. My grandmother has never forgotten that."
Considered the family comedienne, Dumorne loves speaking on the phone daily to family members. Her family includes two sons, 10 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
After lunch, Angela Taylor, 95, read a poem she had written in honor of one of the centenarians, age 101, whom she considered "not old but exceptionally young." Gifts and certificates were presented to all the centenarians at the event, who in addition to the eight 100-year-olds, included five age 101, three age 102, three age 103, two age 105 and one age 109. Also recognized were nonagenarians, ages 90 to 99.
Putting on the Ritz catered the meal and Two Smooth Dudes entertained with swing music.
Kofi Impraim closed by recognizing the wealth of knowledge and enduring spirit of the honorees.