Brookstone Estates held a surprise 101st birthday party for Vesta Morgan Sept. 12. Members of the Brookstone staff and the Morgan family coordinated the event.
When Morgan was escorted to the meeting room and made her appearance, the Coon Holler Kids Blue Grass group played “Happy Birthday” to her while 63 well wishers sang the familiar song. She was seated in a special birthday chair at the head of a long table with the members of her family who were able to attend.
She seemed to enjoy the party and even clapped along with many of the musical numbers presented by the youthful band with the youngest being a five-year-old who played the fiddle along with the rest of the stringed instrument performers. They did more than play the instruments as they sang many familiar tunes. It wasn’t quite a hoedown, but it certainly livened up the party, which met Morgan’s approval.
As a unique birthday cake was placed in front of her, she blew out the candles with gusto and “Happy Birthday” was sung again with smiles all around. The admiring residents and guests all were served cupcakes while music kept playing and many well-wishers nodded their approval. She sat like a grand lady in her court approving of the festivity.
Vesta Morgan and her husband, David Allen Morgan, came to Illinois from Missouri, and he ministered to the folks at the Hazel Dell and Jack Oak area, just south of Casey. He preached to the folks for more than 40 years and served many congregations and many denominations and finally served the First United Methodist Church in Charleston. Along the way they had six children, four boys and two daughters.
When asked what her favorite memories were she responded with, “They all were.” One special event of her life was when her son, Marvin, returned from the Vietnam War alive.
She and her husband had quite a family. In addition to the six children, there are 18 grandchildren, 35 great-grandchildren and 32 great-great-grandchildren. A photograph in her apartment taken at her 100th birthday has more than 80 of the family and their spouses and their children in that picture.
There is a friendship quilt prominently displayed in her room that she helped make about 30 years ago. In 1981, she gave each of her children a handmade quilt for a keepsake and many are still in use.
According to her children, David and Harriet, Morgan was a very good cook and when she had apples on hand and there were too many in the household for a pie so she made apple cobbler. Their mother made a lot of dresses using cuttings from newspapers as patterns and she also made shirts for the boys.
The family lived frugally and David Morgan liked to fish. When the family was adequately fed Vesta canned the surplus. The family walked the country roads and was rewarded many times by finding berries that were made into jellies and jams.
It wasn’t unusual for a member of his congregation to give the family a live calf or a pig, which David Morgan fed until Thanksgiving when it provided meat for the meal and many meals besides that.
He was also a carpenter and used those earnings to help with the bills because in those days ministering to the people was not a high paying job.
This centenarian plus one was a good loving mother and a good wife to her loving husband. Although she lost her husband more than 30 years ago, she carried on and was very good at making ends meet.
All present appreciated a life well lived and offered wishes for many more happy years ahead.