According to statistics only approximately 1 in 5,000 people in the United States live to be 100. Brooksville resident Elizabeth (Betty) Parayzak reached this milestone and joined this select group of centenarians last Friday, May 31, 2019. To celebrate this momentous occasion, the staff at Heron Pointe Health and Rehabilitation, where she lives, threw a birthday bash for her. Many of Betty’s fellow residents attended the party where they enjoyed sandwiches, beverages, and birthday cake. Louie Fortunato, a local singer, entertained the crowd with hits from the 1950s and 1960s.
Betty’s cousins, Ada Burke, and Bob Curl flew in from Ohio for the occasion. Bob’s son, Chris, who lives in Oldsmar, was also there to celebrate, along with Betty’s only daughter, Susan.
Betty was born May 31, 1919, in Columbus, Ohio, just after the end of the first World War. She had one sister. Her father was in the coal business. Her cousin, Ada, who is ninety-seven years old, herself, recalls the fun they had together on her parent’s farm near Columbus.
“We used to go swimming in the creek nearby,” Ada recalled. “We also liked playing with paper dolls that were hand-made by Betty’s mother. She was quite an artist.”
Both their mothers were accomplished seamstresses and made all of the girls’ clothes. Although they grew up during the depression, there was always plenty to eat because of being on a farm.
Betty graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in Elementary Education, but got married soon after and never pursued a teaching career. Her husband was in advertising. In 2012 Betty moved to Florida.
When asked what she attributes her longevity, Betty replied, “My mother lived a long life. I find lots of things to do. I enjoy myself all the time.”
She states that the most interesting things she’s seen over the past one hundred years are all the conveniences we have now.
Betty’s daughter, Susan, remarked, “I told my mom several years ago that we would be sitting here one day celebrating her hundredth birthday. She said, ‘No way, no way’ and I said, ‘All I want is to be with you on your hundredth birthday.’ “
Ann Washington, Social Service Director and a nurse at Heron Pointe spearheaded the birthday celebration. She spoke about Betty and how active she is.
“She enjoys playing Bingo. She attends all the activities and enjoys roaming around the building and parking her wheelchair in front of the window so she can watch the birds. She always talks about her daughter, Susan. She’s a joy to have as a resident here and it’s a blessing to be in the presence of someone who is one hundred years old.”