By Natalie MAIER
The room was filled with the sound of applause as she was wheeled inside. She smiled politely and soon was surrounded by eager family members and friends wishing her a happy birthday and waiting their turn to take a picture with her.
Louise Henshaw, active church and community member, celebrated her 100th birthday at the First Baptist Church at La Crescenta on Saturday, Oct. 6.
The celebration began at 2 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall and lasted past 5 p.m. Louise, who was accompanied by her son Gary and her caretaker, was greeted by about 150 guests.
Louise’s achievements over the last century were showcased during the afternoon celebration. An accomplished bowler with the Mission Hills Senior Bowling League and a member of the Sunland Park Shuffleboard Club, she won more than 100 trophies in her 80s and 90s.
On display was her work in china painting. She took art lessons from Marian Radcliffe, beginning them in the early 1970s in a studio in La Crescenta. Radcliffe said Louise was an eager student and that everyone enjoyed having her in class. Plates, vases, and teakettles embellished with Louise’s articulate china painting were on tables in an adjacent room to the Fellowship Hall. Party attendees were able to place orders to receive pieces they liked. Around 90 pieces were given away, said Gary.
Ruth’s Catering Service fed the crowd. Meatballs, pasta salad and potato salad were just a few of the dishes.
Gary presented a slideshow of his mother’s life. Pictures of young Louise when she was living in Corvallis, Mont. were shown, as well as when she was part of a girl’s singing trio at Orange County’s Chapman College during 1933 and 1947.
After the slideshow, Louise made a presentation of her own. She carefully stood up from her wheelchair, took the microphone into her hands and thanked everyone for coming out to celebrate her birthday.
“I’m turning 100 today. Has it really been that long?” she laughed.
Many attendees and longtime friends of Louise agreed that she has been an inspiration to them.
Mary Ferril, who has known Louise for over 25 years, said that Louise has been very faithful to the church and a sincere friend to all. Bill Ferril smiled as he recounted past times when Louise went on cruises with he and Mary to Alaska and the Panama Canal. He said Louise loved to dance all night.
Stella Chan, friend and acupuncturist to Louise for 15 years, explained how she has been an example and motivation for her.
“She is a testimony and an inspiration to my practice. [Louise] doesn’t seem to age in the mind and spirit,” Chan said. “Her spirituality and her faith in God and services to the church and community are an inspiration to all.”
Chan recalled that every spring Louise would bring fresh tangerines and bouquets of lilacs to her from her garden.
“She nurtures me and I nurture her,” Chan said.
Around a year and a half ago, Gary moved back from Germany to take care of Louise when he noticed she was doing poorly. She said she is very thankful for the care he has given her.
“He has been such a wonderful son. He has taken over and planned everything. I can just not praise him enough,” she said.
Louise has been a member of the First Baptist Church at La Crescenta since 1978. She was in charge of the missionary circle that supplied blankets and clothes to Tijuana, Mexico. She also helped teach Sunday school.
“[Volunteering at the church] has strengthened my faith and has made me a better Christian,” Louise said.
When asked how she feels about turning triple digits, Louise replied, “I am really excited about looking toward the future, for I will be in the Lord’s hands.”