What do the country’s first radio station going on the air, the Great Depression, World War II, the swinging 60s, the 9/11 attacks and Donald Trump’s presidency have in common?
For Lillian LeBlanc, the answer to that question gave her 100 reasons to celebrate New Year’s Day 2020, because all of those events occurred during her lifetime. The longtime New Iberia resident marked her 100th birthday Wednesday with family and friends.
Originally from the community of LeBlanc, she has lived in New Iberia for most of her life. But she always remembered her LeBlanc upbringing, family members said. She hand-stitched baby dresses and christening sets, a technique of sewing many women from the LeBlanc community learn as young girls. Lillian was 9 when she started sewing.
“She sewed until she was 94 years old,” said Susan LeBlanc, Lillian’s daughter-in-law. “She drove until she was 98.”
Until Wednesday, some family members did not know that she was not a New Iberia native.
“I am 48 and remember going to their house as a child,” said Tammie Guilbeaux Simon, LeBlanc’s great niece.
Simon said the celebration of LeBlanc’s birthday has been an annual family event.
“Today is her birthday,” Simon said. “She always has a party on New Year’s Day.”
Although the 100th party is a milestone, it is somewhat bittersweet. Simon said age has begun to slow down her great aunt.
“Lillian is in a nursing home since having a stroke in April,” she said. “Before that, she was so active nobody believed her age.”