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Lehigh Acres resident celebrates 107th birthday

By MELISSA BILL - | Jul 5, 2022

Gwen Hutchinson celebrating her 107th birthday. PHOTO PROVIDED

On June 23, long-time Lehigh Acres resident Gwen Hutchinson was surrounded by friends, family members and Lehigh Acres Place staff and residents who helped her celebrate her 107th birthday. The event was held inside the assisted living facility, and included live entertainment and a special letter from President Joe Biden’s office.

“Gwen had a great birthday. She had many family and friends travel to be with her on this special day. She received a letter and photo of our President Joe Biden,” Suzanne Ullemeyer, Life Enrichment coordinator at Lehigh Acres Place said. “We also had Rich Chechilo from the Roads Home Health Care come and play music and brought her cake to help make it a wonderful day.”

According to Kelly Heron, community relations manager at Lehigh Acres, Hutchinson doesn’t let age hold her back.

“Gwen still plays the piano, gets around by herself and even danced at her own birthday party,” said Heron. “She remains very active here in the community.”

This is the seventh year in a row that Hutchinson’s family members have flown from various parts of Florida to help her celebrate the momentous occasion.

Hutchinson’s niece Yvette Maitland-Vargas tries to never miss a birthday.

“I come down every year to be with her. My aunt is a very outgoing person and enjoys being involved with the other residents. She is always so full of life. She has always been very self reliant and lived by herself until the age of 103,” Maitland-Vargas said.

Following lunch, guests serenaded Hutchinson with a happy birthday song and enjoyed a piece of cake with other residents at a table decorated with balloons and flowers.

The celebration and warm wishes meant a lot to Hutchinson who continues to remain active within her community. She has a long history of giving back to others and was a nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital for over 15 years. Even after her retirement, she continued to give back by donating her time to work with children at a welfare center.

According to Ullemeyer, the staff also learned another fun fact about Hutchinson and her life.

“We found out that Gwen’s husband was a chef for the White House for many years,” Ullemyer said.

Hutchinson is no stranger to big birthday celebrations. When she turned 105, a parade of vehicles, including fire trucks and police vehicles with their sirens on, lined up outside Lehigh Acres Place Assisted Living Facility, to wish Hutchinson a happy birthday.

For Hutchinson’s 104th birthday, Lee County Commissioners Cecil Pendergrass and the late Commissioner Frank Mann, came to give her a special birthday wish. The commissioners each surprised Hutchinson with their own gift.

Pendergrass brought and read a ceremonial resolution recognizing her on this special day, and Mann serenaded her with a song entitled “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” which brought a smile to her face.

She maintains that her secret for living long is her complete trust in the Lord.

“I look to him and trust him at all times,” Hutchinson said.