Cascade resident celebrates 100th birthday with big bash

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Friday, December 30, 2016 3:22 pm EST


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When Dan Babb, of Cascade, was born, Woodrow Wilson was president and "Pretty Baby" was the No. 1 hit.

But, despite a century of living, according to Babb, there is nothing special nor remarkable about his life.

"I just happened to get up every morning for the last 100 years," he said.

Staff and friends at Sunrise of Cascade, where he lives, disagree.

"He is such a wonderful and humble man," said Debra Rost, executive director of the retirement village. "And we have been here for just over 10 years and he is the first resident we have ever had that celebrated a 100th birthday."

Babb has been with Sunrise almost since the beginning; he moved in about nine years ago. "I came for a short time to recuperate and really liked it here," he said. "I knew at 90, I would eventually have to go someplace, so I just stayed."

Sunrise chef David Willer prepared a buffet of Dan's favorites for the party. Besides cake, the table included watermelon slices, stuffed mushrooms, pecan pie, meat wraps and chocolate covered strawberries.

The centurion had a busy day and was a bit tired out after the evening dinner. He wasn't expecting a party and the staff had to trick him out of his room and into the community space by feigning a fire drill.

He was born in Missouri and spent more than 60 years of his life there. He and Ruth, his wife of 50 years who passed away 25 years ago after a lengthy illness, moved to Michigan to be closer to their only child - John Babb - when Dan retired.

He started working for Kroger at the age of 17 and retired from the same company 44 years later. He started as a "cleanup boy," "did nearly everything in between," and at one point ran a store for "about $1,500 per year."

That was plenty of money in those days, he said. "Everything was cheaper then and I was able to buy a five-room brick house on that."  When he started with Kroger, wages were 21 cents per hour, $2 per day and $12 per week, according to Babb.

"My life was very ordinary - not eventful," he said. "I worked hard, was church-oriented; I had a nice family and lots of friends. It has been good."

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