"One hundred birthday cakes!" sounds like something you would hear at very busy bakery, right?
Nope. Just the number of times Norcross resident Evelyn Dray has seen her name iced across the top of that celebratory dessert.
When family, friends, and neighbors gathered Saturday at to wish Evelyn, dressed in a feathery purple boa and flashing tiara, a Happy 100th Birthday she greeted each guest, inviting everyone to, “Go get you a slice!”
And sweeter a cake no one ever never tasted.
Holding hands with her BFF and fellow canasta player Nina McCurley, Evelyn’s twinkling eyes and big grin made it clear that she relished seeing old friends — well, not old to Evelyn — and family, some of whom had traveled from California, Florida, and Tennessee. Fellowship Hall swelled with guests from the very young to the very old. After all, when God gives you 100 years you make a whole lot of friends.
Her daughter and granddaughters planned this special party, complete with memory notes and snapshots of each and every guest.
“We are trying to get her picture on Willard Scott’s ‘Today Show Smucker’s Jar,’” noted granddaughter Jamie Stepic, “It would be awesome to see her face on that.”
It was in 1911 when Boston's Cy Young pitched against Christy Mathewson of the Giants, Marie Curie received her Nobel Prize, the song "Come Josephine in My Flying Machine" hit No. 1 on the charts, King George V of England was crowned, and Ray Harroun won the first Indianapolis speeding around the track at an average speed of 74.59 mph. And on Sept. 13 that same year, Evelyn Fern Guinan was born in Flint, Michigan.
When she was just three years old her family moved to the small town of Macedonia, Ohio. A sharp student, Evelyn dreamed of becoming a teacher and she attended Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio until tuition money ran dry, after just a year of study, thanks to the Great Depression.
Evelyn went to work as a secretary for a restaurant chain in Cleveland. It was there where she was set up on a date with a co-worker’s brother, Edwin Dray. The date went exceptionally well and led to many others. Evelyn and Ed were married on June 29, 1940 and had two children, Patty and Russell.
After Evelyn finished raising her children, she went to work at the Case Western Reserve Dental School in Cleveland. She made many friends there before finally retiring in 1979.
After Ed died suddenly in 1970, Evelyn moved in with Patty and when the family moved to Norcross in 1985, Evelyn quickly adjusted, becoming a lively member of Norcross First Baptist Church, rocking many babies in the nursery, and attending a variety of church activities.
Evelyn has worked with the Red Cross Bloodmobile, read to students at Stripling Elementary, and taught English as a Second Language to international students at Norcross First Baptist. Some of her international students became great friends, having lunch at her house and bringing her gifts from their cultures.
Evelyn is as sharp as tact. Her youthful spirit and constant motion are an inspiration. Be warned, although she may appear sweet and kindly, most who know her will tell you that only the brave dare to challenge this fierce competitor to a game of Scrabble or go toe to toe with her skills at Bananagrams.
It may take another one hundred years to beat her!