WATSONVILLE—Gerry Kall on Friday celebrated her 101st birthday in Watsonville, the town she was born in.

Thanks to a gathering of relatives, friends, Katie Nuñez, Watsonville Senior Center’s older adult services supervisor, and a handful of folks who cheered out the window of the cars as they drove by, Kall was the center of attention for a two-hour, outdoor, socially-distanced and masked party.

A former president of the Native Daughters of the Golden West (at San Juan Bautista), Kall said “good clean living” was her key to longevity.

“I feel so fortunate,” she said. “I am healthy. I feel good. And I am in good care.”

Indeed, under the careful company of her caretaker, Amy Botzon, Kall appeared to relish the event as she astutely returned answers to questions about her century-plus life from those gathered.

Beside Kall’s wheelchair was a folding table piled with cupcakes, flowers and colorful balloons.

“What was the address of the home you were born in?” one person asked.

“141 Second St.,” Kall chimed. “And the house is still there.”

Kall added that her mother was born on Buzzard Lagoon in Corralitos and her grandmother was born on Valencia Road in Aptos. 

A Watsonville Union High School graduate—class of ‘38—Kall worked a variety of jobs over the years, including secretarial duties. Her hobbies include knitting and playing the violin. She was a member of the string section of the Watsonville Orchestra for eight years.

“I knitted a dress once,” she said. “It had 504 stitches around the hem.”

John Mahoney took time to bring Kall a birthday card. He said he brings meals to her as part of the Meals on Wheels program.

“She’s wonderful,” he said.

At one point the celebration was augmented with a recording of “Happy Birthday” over a car speaker system. It was coming from a car driven by Adriana Flores which had large colorful cutout letters that read “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” strung out along the side of the car.

“We felt we had to do something for her,” said Flores, a senior administrative analyst with the Parks and Community Services Department.

Kall smiled and waved them on as the car continued up East Fifth Street.

Kall’s actual birthday was the following day; she was born on Dec. 12, 1919.

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Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. More recently Good Times & Press Banner. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


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