Another 100 year Birthday! There May be Something in the Water

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Daisy Saunders

In the last Observer issue, I wrote about Bede Duni who turned 100 last December. Daisy Saunders reached that same impressive age this year on January 16. Coincidentally, Daisy and Bede grew up next door to each other on South Main Street. Daisy still lives there.

Daisy said she was a somewhat naughty child. She slapped a boy who laughed when she was singing at Bridge Street School. She also remembers holding the bell cord so that the bell wouldn’t ring the children in from recess. Daisy giggled a little with the memory. Oh boy, I thought. True confessions! But no, I found out that Daisy is an upright citizen!

You may have met Daisy in town. She served on the Recreation Commission, was an assistant Registrar of Voters and was a member of the Democratic Town Committee for which she attended a 6th District Congressional Convention. She is a long-time parishioner at the Second Baptist Church where her birthday party celebration was held. She was a foster mother to thirty children for which she received recognition from the state for her generous and devoted care.

Daisy was a Justice of the Peace for years. The last wedding she officiated at was at Sunrise Park, when Daisy was in her mid-90s. She performed numerous weddings at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield. Her most memorable one there was when the husband, a prisoner, was aged 19 and his bride was 65. Daisy enjoyed the prison weddings because the brides-to-be came smartly dressed. That is something that Daisy notices. Style. Fashion. Beauty.

Daisy was a model. Her lovely face graced magazines, catalogs and a billboard on a city bus. She appeared as an extra in the movie Hope Springs which featured Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carrell. The movie was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and won a Peoples Choice Award.

With a sharp eye for color and form, Daisy is also an artist. Her son Carlton, also an artist, encouraged her. She prefers abstracts for their swirls of color, but her portfolio also included still life works and landscapes. She displayed her art in many solo and group exhibits as a member of the Tobacco Valley Artists Association. Unfortunately, someone walked off with one of her works which was displayed at the Kent Memorial Library. Perhaps the theft indicated that her work was indispensable.

Daisy has spent most of her life in Suffield. She feels blessed to live in a beautiful town with scenic landscapes. In addition to her Black heritage, Daisy’s gene pool also contains Scandinavian, French Canadian and Blackfoot Indian ancestors. Her parents were Irene and Will Anderson. Her father moved here from New London and worked with Mr. Cooper at the funeral parlor on Main Street.

Daisy met her first husband, Will Wilkins, at a dance at the military base near Bradley Field. They were married for thirty years until his death. He was an Air Force First Sergeant in World War II. In addition to Carlton, the couple had a daughter named Leslie. Leslie’s daughter Ara is Daisy’s loving caregiver. Ara is one of Daisy’s four grandchildren. Daisy also has four great grandchildren.

Daisy met Fred Saunders, her second husband, at a birthday dinner when he was frying chicken. She introduced herself by telling him he was not cooking the chicken long enough. They were happily married for nine years until his death.

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