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    Celebrating her 104th year makes for special birthday

    By BETSY BOLGER PAULET
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published July 19, 2002

    Although her hearing might not be sharp anymore and she cannot take walks like she used to do, Nellie Campbell still gets around pretty well in her wheelchair.

    She likes to attend all the birthday parties at Sabal Palms Health Care Center in Largo. On Wednesday, she was all smiles because it was her birthday. And what a birthday. She was celebrating 104 years.

    The charming, petite woman, who has seen three centuries, was the belle of the ball sitting beside her son John at the head table. Her Irish eyes twinkled at the colorful balloons, cakes and cards as she greeted scores of friends and staffers at the retirement center, where she has lived for six years.

    Mrs. Campbell was born July 17, 1898, at home, one of eight children of Irish immigrants, Jack Lavin and Mary Geragherty of Philadelphia,.

    She worked for Nabisco, Remington and Visco before she married William Campbell, although she doesn't recall exactly when. But she does remember that they lived many years in Ridley Township, Pa., and that she once worked at a Woolworth's five-and-dime store.

    The couple had two sons. John lives in Largo and comes daily to visit his mother at the facility. She has four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

    In 1975, a few years after her husband died, Mrs. Campbell left behind the cold of Pennsylvania to move south. She and her "little sister," Julia Lavin, moved to Ormond Beach north of Daytona Beach.

    The following year the sisters moved into a home in Largo.

    Mrs. Campbell had three sisters and four brothers who now are gone. She likes to talk about Tom. "He was an old crank, always pulling my hair until Mama told him to cut it out."

    But it is Julia, who died several years ago at 91, that she credits with helping her live so long.

    "Julia made me keep going. She wouldn't let me sit idle in a wheelchair."

    Mrs. Campbell is member of St. Jerome Catholic Church in Largo and remains active in programs at Sabal Palms, where she moved after her sister died.

    The 104-year-old has some basic advice for young women. "Do what you want to do."

    She is a pleasant woman and is not considered demanding of the nursing center staff but she does have one ritual that she is adamant about performing daily: an attendant pours Oil of Olay into her hands so she can rub it on.

    Largo couple celebrates 50-year union with vows

    Jean C. and Phillip Stillwell of Largo recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a renewal of marriage vows and Mass at St. Justin Martyr Catholic Church, Largo. This was followed by a party at Palm Hill Country Club given by their four children. They were married June 7, 1952, at St. Teresa's Catholic Church in Runnemede, N.J.

    The entire family moved here in 1968 from West Berlin, N.J. He retired as a schoolteacher after 36 years, 22 of them were in the Pinellas School District. They have nine grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

    -- To submit an item to Good for You, write to Betsy Bolger-Paulet, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756, or call (727) 445-4176 Monday or Tuesday.

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