Birthdays are a seemingly normal event for most, but how many people have the pleasure of celebrating their 105th birthday? Helen Blackledge had that unique opportunity on August 24th as she was toasted by family and friends at a celebration at Kingston Residence, 7515 Winchester Road where she has resided since 2001.
Over 75 guests enjoyed the piano music of Marilyn Ambrose and cake made by Waynedale Bakery as well wishers came by and offered their congratulations. Helen received a multitude of greeting cards, arrangements of fresh flowers and two fresh fruit bouquets from Edible Arrangements.
Everyone joined her in singing her favorite song, the IU fight song which you can also see Helen singing on You Tube. Helen graduated from Indiana University of Bloomington in 1930, was awarded the Gertrude Rich Award and was inducted into IU’s Emeritus Club for alumni 50 years or more.
At the party, hand-knit hats were handed out to each resident who attended. Helen’s daughter in law asked Helen how many she wanted made and Helen, being her generous self, responded one for everyone!
Helen’s journey is particularly noteworthy as she is known for a very colorful life including her time teaching in the Philippines, her husband’s participation in the Bataan Death March, the internment of her and her sons by the Japanese and, after World War II, a distinguished Fort Wayne Community Schools career. She taught in various schools in the system over the years, eventually serving as principal at southern Heights Elementary School. She earned a Master’s Degree in Education at Columbia University in New York City in 1951 and became President of the Teacher’s Association in 1964. Helen retired in 1974 at the age of 65.
When asked what her greatest achievement in her life has been, Helen thought for a long moment and replied, “I’ve always enjoyed teaching, being a parent and music. But I like to think that I helped parents understand their children better.”
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