ZOOMING THROUGH THE YEARS: Remote party celebrates woman’s 100th birthday


GREENFIELD — Born in 1920, Martha Mae Cooper probably never thought she’d celebrate her 100th birthday with her family through a computer screen.

Yet that’s exactly what happened to the smiling centenarian, who chatted nearly 30 minutes with a dozen relatives over a Zoom conference on her birthday Friday, April 17.

The staff at CrownPointe Communities in Greenfield, where she lives, helped set up the call with her family, whose two surviving children live in the West.

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“If it hadn’t been for the restrictions, we would have been there in person for a cake-and-ice cream kind of party,” said her daughter-in-law, Pat Cooper, who had planned to travel from Arizona to celebrate the milestone before pandemic restrictions kicked in.

Having the family gathered virtually was a real treat for Martha Mae, who was pampered by CrownPointe staff throughout the day, despite all residents being isolated in their rooms.

“The staff is going to spoil her rotten,” administrator Carmen Bowling said on Friday.

Some of them helped Martha Mae get gussied up for her Zoom call at 11 a.m., then helped her celebrate with a specific cake she requested — a pineapple upside down cake.

The center’s activity director spent a lot of one-on-one time with her, and staff members popped in to wish her happy birthday and visit throughout the day.

“She loves when we spend time with her. She has a very positive attitude, and her spirits are high today,” Bowling said.

The birthday girl was taking her longevity in stride, saying she simply takes things day by day. She credits a strong faith and loving family for blessing her with such a long, fulfilling life.

“We went to church every Sunday,” she said.

Except for a decade spent living in nearby Rush County, Martha Mae has lived most of the past century in Hancock County, in Jackson Township, where she was born.

She and her husband raised three children and attended New Hope Church in Greenfield. An avid reader, she was a member of the Nameless Creek Literary Club as well as Gideons International, an evangelical Christian society.

She was a homemaker, and her husband, Robert, was a farmer. He died in 2007 at the age of 88.

Thirteen family members from four states gathered to wish Martha Mae happy birthday on Friday, including her children, grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

“It was quite a unique birthday party, having a Zoom conversation with a 100-year-old woman who never knew how to turn on a computer,” her daughter-in-law said on Friday, giggling about the heart-warming experience.