Lela Hisel had just three wishes on her 100th birthday:
• To be with her family
• To be happy
• To do the best she can do.
But on Wednesday, Lela was granted all three and more as family and friends gathered at Kenwood Health and Rehabilitation Center to surprise the centenarian.
She spent the day being pampered, complete with hair, makeup and a manicure. But little did she know, more than 20 family members arranged to attend her 3 p.m. party.
Richmond Mayor Jim Barnes and his wife Jan also attended to proclaim Jan. 22 as Lela Hisel Day in Richmond.
“You look ready to take to prom,” Barnes said to Lela, who was dressed in a sparkling blue gown and tiara.
Kenwood’s second-oldest resident, Mildred Agee, 96, sang Lela a special birthday song her husband Pope wrote many years ago.
“I’ll sing to anybody if they want me to,” Agee said.
A limousine, courtesy of Jack VanWinkle of the Sapphire Night Club, was parked outside to take the birthday girl and her family to Red Lobster, where she could enjoy seafood, her favorite food.
A red carpet was rolled out from the entrance of Kenwood, and Lela was escorted to the limo as family and friends cheered.
“This is a time in her life when she should lean back and enjoy it,” said Janice Jackson, Kenwood’s life enrichment director.
When 101-year-old Irene Stocker passed away in August, Lela became Kenwood’s oldest resident.
“Living to be this old and to be our oldest resident has made her so happy,” Jackson said. “I always told her we were going to have a party out of this world.”
Lela was born January 22, 1914, in the Jackson County community of Hisel to the late Carter Fowler and Nancy Liz Collins. She had 14 half brothers and sisters.
Hisel attended Sinking Valley School, where she graduated from the eighth grade.
Her favorite subject was math, she said. She always enjoyed school and was eager to learn.
On September 12, 1932, she married Roy Clark Hisel, also of Hisel, and they had one son, Elbert Lee.
Lela has four grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren.
Roy and Lela both worked on a farm where they raised corn, tobacco and other crops. When their great-grandchildren were small, Lela would cook a “big country meal” every other Sunday for her family, a meal that always included homemade ice cream, she said.
Lela was a member of the Hisel Reformed Church until it closed, and she later attended Kerby Knob First Church of God. Her faith has always been her strength, she said.
Lela lived in Jackson County after her husband’s death in 2001. At age 96, she moved to Kenwood after undergoing emergency surgery and now considers it her “home away from home,” she said.
Lela is involved in every activity Kenwood has to offer, Jackson said, and has no need for a wheelchair or other mobility aids.
When Lela was asked to lead a series of sitting exercises, she lifted her leg nearly level with her head, Jackson laughed. “All I know is that I can’t lift my leg that high.”
Crystal Wylie can be contacted at email@example.com or at 623-1669, Ext. 6696.