“In any given week, birthday cake and celebrations are often part of the love and laughter found at Pilgrims Hospice, but it’s not every day we get to honour a client turning 102!” say’s Pilgrims Hospice Recreation Therapist, Gillian Bennett (pictured standing next to Tom Richards, centre).
A special lunchtime celebration for Tom Richards was held at Pilgrims Hospice on Wednesday January 10, 2018, where he attends the Adult Respite Day Program one day a week.“Tom has an amazing wit and sense of humour. It’s great that he’s part of this special program and so engaged in life.”
Tom was born in the Strathcona area of Edmonton on January 8, 1916. Over a century later,Tom still lives in Edmonton and celebrates his 102nd birthday this year.
Witnessing times of great change, Tom remembers the days when ice was delivered to each household for the icebox, and how he and his friends tried to carve off little icicles to eat.
Tom has much to celebrate in his long life, including 65 years of marriage with his wife Helen. Both are still active artists – Helen paints at a community centre each week and Tom specializes in watercolours, which he paints at home. (Tom affectionately refers to his 93-year old wife as his ‘youngster’.)
Despite being a liquor buyer for the Alberta Liquor Commission, Tom quit drinking when he was 40. He attributes his long life and health to swimming a mile a day until he was 83.
Gillian found copies of the Edmonton Bulletin Newspaper from the year Tom was born (1916) and the year he turned 20 (1936). Part of the birthday celebrations included a short presentation of what life was like at these times.