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Celebrating Mary Elizabeth

| February 24, 2017
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Today we celebrate the 100th birthday of long-time client, Mary Elizabeth Parker, who is still as sharp as a tack.  I had the good fortune of being able to be part of her birthday celebrations yesterday and she was surrounded by many of those who love her and it is certainly clear that good genes run in the family!

When asked how she made it to 100, Mary Elizabeth said "By taking one day at a time."  In honor of her centennial birthday, I'd like to share a few things with you about this amazing woman and her history.

Mary Elizabeth was born prematurely at home during a major flood in Chattanooga, Tn on February 27, 1917.  Her determination to live foretold her purposeful and eventful life.  She grew up in an active household as the youngest of four children and met her life's love while in high school.  Mary Elizabeth was introduced to Paul Esten Parker through friends and promptly got his attention by stealing his hat!  

Paul went to her house to retrieve it and the rest is history.  They married during the great depression on April 11, 1935 and lived in Chattanooga before moving to Baltimore, Md where Paul worked to build ships to support the war effort.

After the war, Mary Elizabeth and Paul returned to Chattanooga with their two daughters, Janice Elizabeth and Javonne Esten, and lived there until 1947 when Paul was offered a position as an attorney with the Jennings, O'Neill and Jarvis law firm in Knoxville, Tn.  Mary Elizabeth enjoyed entertaining and was soon involved as a leader in several organizations.  She served as chairman of the Knoxville Women's Club and the Ossoli Circle Junior Department, President of the Knoxville Bar Auxiliary, and twice served as President of the Sequoyah Garden Club.  She also enjoyed playing bridge and traveling.  Mary Elizabeth and Paul traveled the world and she especially enjoyed traveling with their Airstream camping friends.

Image result for airstream

Mary Elizabeth now lives independently in an apartment at Echo Ridge Retirement Community in Knoxville, Tn.  She actively participates in social activities and attends an exercise class several times a week.  Her loving friends and extended family marvel at her youthful vitality, stamina and longevity.


In these moments filled with family and love, it is my nature to see what I can learn from them.  I would like to share with you a few things that I brought back with me:

  • Laughter keeps you healthy.  The saying goes that laughter is the best medicine and it is true that you can survive by seeing the humor in things.  You can't laugh and feel sad or angry at the same time.  Practice it often and with family and friends.
  • Spend your time and money on experiences with family and friends.  You are making memories with every moment spent and of course, while spending responsibly is always the best advice, the second best would certainly be that spending money on these special moments will bring you pleasurable memories that will last a life time.
  • And last, from the professional side, we never know how long we will be here.  With people living longer than ever before, it is best to determine the right amount to spend each year and work with someone who can help you tweak that plan as your life changes.  Planning ahead is time well spent so that when you are ready to retire and do things you love regularly, you are not bogged down with concerns about whether your assets are protected as you age, or whether there are any estate issues that would be distressful to address later down the road.  

Having Mary Elizabeth as our only centenarian client is a pleasure and sharing her birthday was a blessing.  We are fortunate to have a great relationship with not only Mary Elizabeth, but next generations of her family as well.  We are grateful each day to get to experience life events with all of our clients and look forward to many more in the future.  

Until next time, live one day at a time, enjoy life and laugh daily!

Warmest wishes,

Ali Swofford

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