Party week for 100-year-old Eunice Wickstrom

By Monda Van Hollebeke | Dec 18, 2013

“I want to be just like you,” said Father Kenneth Haydock, pastor of Holy Rosary Catholic Church, at the 100th birthday party of long-time Edmonds resident Eunice Wickstrom.

After Mass on Dec. 3, Father Haydock addressed her as “the most amazing woman I have met in my life,” and presented her with a framed birthday message and blessing from Pope Francis.

Another attendee was Barbara Davenport, who watched Eunice “glide down the aisle to her preferred spot, genuflect and enter the pew.”

“With age and ‘retired’ knees and hips, many Mass-goers make a reverent bow instead. Not Eunice. She is as agile as an alter server.”

Agile, yes, and wonderfully independent.

Eunice Zender Wickstrom was born Dec. 3, 1913, in Minnesota to Michael and Rose Zender, and grew up in a family of 13 children on a farm where, during the Depression years, she acquired many practical skills, among them gardening and sewing.

She came to Seattle in 1950 and worked as a seamstress for Best Apparel.

In 1955, she married the love of her life, Morris Wickstrom, a widower with six children.

The Wickstroms settled in Edmonds in 1959. “Eunice,” as she is known by her family, now has seven grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, and 12 great-great-grandchildren.

On Friday, Dec. 6, about 60 people attended a brunch and birthday celebration hosted by the Holy Rosary Women’s Association to recognize Eunice Wickstrom’s milestone event and to honor her generous volunteer career over a lifetime.

These activities include working at the Edmonds Food Bank, sewing quilts for the annual church auction, bringing communion regularly to residents at two nursing homes, sewing infant layettes for families in need, and sharing her garden produce and raspberries with her friends and the community.

She cans beans from her garden to this day. She still lives in her own home and does her own housekeeping.

Dorothy Sittauer said, “If Eunice could get out and dig in her garden, she knew all was well.” She added that Eunice wanted “to do as Jesus did by sharing her gifts and blessings with the community, assisting those in need.”

Joan Gerdon, Women’s Association president, invited members of the audience to share stories about the birthday honoree.

Barbara Davenport reported that, not long ago, a parishioner heard that Mrs. Wickstrom was planning to clean her roof and gutters.

Hurriedly, several members of the Knights of Columbus went to her home to help. She greeted them with, “I don’t need any help.”

They watched her perform what was for her a routine task, and left, amazed.

After several tributes, Eunice herself bounded up to grab the microphone to thank everyone. When she was asked to tell her secret for living a long life, she smiled slyly and said, “I’m afraid to tell.”

She was sent home from the party with photographic artwork and lavender orchids, her favorite flower.

Celebrating with “Eunice” at the Friday brunch were three of her seven grandchildren: Linda Grady, Cindy Russell, and Erik Wickstrom, who had also attended a festive luncheon in her honor on Dec. 3 at Anthony’s in Edmonds, along with all of her family and several Zender relatives from Minnesota.

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