HELENA — Irene Roberts of Helena was celebrated Tuesday on the occasion of her 103rd birthday.
Family members and friends came to Touchmark for a “drive-by” birthday party for Irene. Touchmark staff brought her outside for the celebration. People made signs, brought gifts, sang to her, and greeted her from a safe distance.
“I am utterly astounded, I’m amazed that they would – my family and all my wonderful friends through the years,” she said.
Irene also received a video with good wishes from patients and staff at Shriners Hospitals for Children, and from the Shriners’ leader, Imperial Potentate Jeff Sowder.
She is believed to be one of the oldest living former Shriners patients. In 1923, at the age of 6, she developed polio. She spent several months receiving treatment at the Shriners Hospital in Minnesota.
Irene is a former schoolteacher, with eight children and a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She has been a longtime Helena resident, having volunteered with organizations like Helena Food Share.
Irene says she remembers before Touchmark was built, and that she is grateful for everyone there – where she now feels at home.
“They came up with this beautiful home, and it is a home,” she said.
She also says the secret to a long life is good food.