Salem resident Alma Poage turned 100 on Saturday, October 7. The mother of two celebrated the occasion with friends and family at the Salem Senior Center – a building that she has been coming to for over 40 years.
Both of Alma’s children – Martha Poage-Conner and Richard Poage – said that a special gathering had been in the works for several weeks.
“When we asked her about having the party, she said, ‘I really don’t want to have a party.’ Our family told her that we all wanted to celebrate her 100th and invite some friends and family,” Martha said. “She gave in and as time drew closer to the date she started to get really excited.”
Aidan Conner says words can’t describe just how much he loves his great-grandmother. “When I was younger, she would always give us fresh vegetables,” said the current Virginia Tech student. “She has always been that sweet great grandmother that cares for you no matter what.”
Salem has been home to Alma Poage for practically her whole life. She and her late husband Clarence Poage owned a grocery store for several years before selling it. “She worked at Newberry’s in Salem, prior to working in the grocery store. After selling it, mom worked part-time for American Greeting Cards,” Martha said. “After retirement, mom and dad loved to take their motor home on the road to several camp grounds.”
Alma Poage was still driving herself around well into her 90s – something uncommon for someone that age. Vickie Sword, a friend for many years, says that’s not shocking to those who know her best. “I have many memories of Alma,” she said. “She loved to be a member of the 49ers plus club and was a very active member in the Salem Senior Center. She traveled with us on lots of trips, especially shopping trips.”
Ever since she was in elementary school, Lisa Gerritsen has known Alma Poage. “My earliest memories are from our family gatherings, which of course always involved good times and good food,” she said. “Mrs. Poage is a wonderful cook and we have enjoyed many of her great dishes throughout the years.”
Alma’s children sold their mother’s house a few months ago and moved her to Salem Terrace. A crafter for many years, her family went above and beyond to make sure that the transition was as smooth as possible. “She has her sewing machine in her apartment,” Richard said. “She still enjoys making cards, working on beaded ornaments…stuff like that.”
It may have been for a few hours but spending time with family and friends on her birthday meant the world to Alma Poage. “The key to life is to cherish special moments like this. I’m so thankful and blessed to be able to spend this day with my family and friends,” she said.