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3 parties needed to celebrate 100 years

Dan Thrift/Tahoe TribuneBessie Ball, who was honored with three birthday parties, prepares to cut her 100th birthday cake at Snowcross Baptist Church.
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Bessie Ball celebrated her 100th birthday anniversary in a big way with not one, but three, birthday parties. The South Lake Tahoe lady, who reached the century mark Nov. 19, was born Nov. 19, 1902, on a farm near Centerville, Iowa.

The first party was hosted Nov. 17 by members of the Snowcross Baptist Church, who honored Bessie at a potluck complete with birthday cake ablaze with candles, a corsage, a potted plant and a turkey dinner.

The second event took place at the South Lake Tahoe Senior Center Nov. 19 during lunch. She was feted with another birthday cake with candles, roses and many birthday cards from family and friends.



Following lunch she was whisked away to Albertsons, where she received yet another candle-covered birthday cake and more flowers. Everyone in the store was invited to share in the festivities with cake and juice. Bessie, who is a regular customer at Albertsons, walks to the store to shop as well as to lunch at the senior center several times a week.

Sharing in the festivities were her grandson and his wife, Michael and Barbara Atwell, as well as her great-grandson, Duncan Atwell, and great-great-granddaughter, Emma Atwell.




Bessie was one of five children. Her “younger” sister, Lucy Walker, who is 88, resides at Lancaster, Calif., and her three brothers are deceased. She had one son, the late Olin Atwell, who is Michael’s father.

Bessie trained as a hair dresser and established her own salon in Centerville. Twenty years later she and her husband, Lawrence Ball, moved to Arco, Iowa, where they owned and operated a trailer park. Upon the death of her husband in the mid-1970s, Bessie moved to Visa, Calif., to be closer to her son, and in 1997 relocated to South Lake Tahoe to live near her grandson and family.

She is a lifelong member of Eastern Star and active at the South Lake Tahoe Senior Center as well as Snowcross Baptist Church. In her younger years, she enjoyed oil painting.

Bessie said she doesn’t know to what she owes her longevity, but her grandson said that she never smoked, drank an occasional glass of wine with dinner, and probably made a good choice of parents.


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