Helen Nilmeier celebrated her 102 birthday surrounded by loving family, friends, and neighbors last week. She lives with her daughter, Peggy Pool, in the Sierra Springs Mobile Home Park in Bass Lake, and was treated to a special birthday luncheon, attended by 30, at Sweetwater Steakhouse.
Despite the necessity of using a walker, Nilmeier walks about a-half mile every other day or so to visit neighbors, and said her secret to a long healthy life is cooking with olive oil, and eating lots of veggies.
“She’s even got me eating veggies,” her only surviving daughter, Peggy, 67, said. “I stay away from red meat, except for bacon ... but with all those vegetables I’m eating, I figure a little bacon can’t hurt.”
Jan Kissig handmade a large card, signed by many well-wishers, and also made a pineapple upside down cake per Nilmeier’s request.
Bill Seaberg wrote a special song for the occasion, a surprise to the birthday girl, and he and wife Linda sang the lyrics to the tune of Frank Gershwin’s song, “You Can’t Take that Away from Me.”
Born April 7, 1914, in Firebaugh, Nilmeier has lived through both world wars, the roaring twenties, the depression, prohibition, the Korean and Vietnam wars, and the moon landing. Given her love of politics, she was elated when women were finally given the right to vote. Her first presidential vote was for Franklin Delanore Roosevelt.
Nilmeier’s youngest sister, Margaret, lives in Sacramento. She will be 98 in May.