Gonzales — Lillie Mae Pertuis Sheets said Sunday she was “dumbfounded” by the surprise birthday party thrown in her honor.
More than 50 relatives and friends crowded into the dining hall of Azalea Estates Assisted Living center to surprise Sheets, who turned 100 on Jan. 12.
After walking from her room to find a birthday cake, 100 red roses and the guests, Sheets sat between her two sons, Robert “Bobby” Sheets and James “Jimmy” Sheets.
Many of her grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren were in attendance.
Grandchildren Robert Sheets Jr. and Glenda Sheets Landeche talked about Sheets’ love of joke-telling, gardening and cooking.
The birthday honoree, who wore a crown and was adorned with two corsages, worked at the St. Amant High School lunchroom for 37 years, retiring in 1981. She was primarily responsible for making bread every day, said John Duplechein, who read a biography of Sheets.
She married Allie Joseph Sheets, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1943.
She has lived to see 17 presidents, 27 governors, the Great Depression, World War I, World War II, the Cold War, Korean War and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Duplechein said.
Friend Lois Archord, who worked with Sheets for several years, called her friend a great co-worker and mentor.
“She is a great lady who always helped us out,” Archord said.
Former neighbor Joseph Alexander Reine Jr. quipped that despite being 85, Sheets still calls him “Junior” and talked about her quick wit and perseverance.
After a toast, “Mae Mae” as many called her, said she was speechless and “don’t really know what to say.”