Family hopes to surprise local nursing home resident with cascade of cards

Mary Smith was born April 4, 1918, during the Spanish Flu pandemic, and spent her entire life in Central Texas. (Courtesy photo)
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BELTON, Texas (KWTX) The family of a Belton nursing home resident whose 102nd birthday party was canceled because of a ban on visitors amid the COVID-19 outbreak is hoping to surprise her with a cascade of birthday cards.

Mary E. Smith, a resident of Park Place Manor in Belton, who is known as a faithful woman who will still "pull out that index finger and tell you how the cow ate the cabbage" will turn 102 on Saturday.

The nursing home says staff members will be disinfecting all the mail Smith receives, which they’re now doing with all of the mail that arrives in order to protect residents who are at high risk for the new coronavirus.

"I was just trying to think of something we could do without being there," said Mary's daughter-in-law Sarah Smith.

"Anybody can send a card."

Sarah said she's hoping both friends and strangers, young and old will answer the call.

Mary Smith
Park Place Manor
810 East 13th Ave.
Belton, TX 76513

"There are so many people at home now looking for something to do where they can help someone else without infecting someone else," Sarah said.

"Parents if you are looking for something for your kids to do while you're home just call it an art project so they can extra credit,” she said.

Sarah said the family celebrated the matriarch's 100th birthday in a big way.

Last year, they took her on an outing to Clem Mikeska's Barbeque to mark her 101st.

This year they had planned to surprise her with a party at the facility, but that all changed when the nursing home was put on lockdown two weeks ago.

Smith is good health, and although her eyesight is failing, still reads the daily paper.

"There are some advantages to being 102. She takes everyday as a blessing," Sarah said.

"I don't think I'd do that good having to stay confined for this period of time but the nursing home is taking extremely good care of everyone there so we will party later."

Mary Smith was born April 4, 1918 and spent her entire life in Central Texas graduating in 1934 from Temple High School.

She and her husband owned Smith's Groceries in Academy for decades starting in the 1950's.

Her husband, Chuck was a barber for 57 years, working both in Temple and at a shop adjacent to the grocery store in Academy.