January 18th, 2021

Wishing Happy 100th from a distance

By Jensen, Randy on April 30, 2020.

Phyllis Handley waves from an upper-floor balcony to her friends and neighbours as they came out to celebrate her 100th birthday on Wednesday her home at the Grandview Village seniors condo. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Ian Martens

Lethbridge Herald


A 100th birthday is worth celebrating, even if social distancing measures require improvisation on the normal festivities. And that’s exactly how friends and family of Phyllis Handley marked the occasion.

Standing on a top-floor balcony of the Grandview Village seniors condo, Handley waved to friends and neighbours who had gathered to sing “Happy Birthday” in the courtyard below or from their own apartment balconies.

Handley’s son Roger and his wife were on hand to help celebrate and said that his mom spent most of the day on the phone talking with friends and relatives.

“With today’s circumstances we had to do it socially distancing but we have a lot of good friends here who were able to sing her ‘Happy Birthday’,” he said.

Phyllis (Hopkins) Handley was born on April 29, 1920 in Empress. She became a teacher in her hometown, as well as in Glevennah and Iron Springs, which is where she met her husband, local auctioneer and well-known fiddler Les Handley. The couple farmed in the Turin area before moving to Coaldale, where they raised their family of three children, which eventually grew to include nine grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

“I’ve had a very, very fine life. I’ve been richly blessed to live this long and I have enjoyed almost all of it,” she said.

Handley says she was overwhelmed by the display of caring by all her friends and neighbours who came out to celebrate her milestone day.

“I could not believe it. It seems so impossible that anybody would honour me, but I humbly accept all of their beautiful wishes and I wish them God’s blessings.”

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