CHILLICOTHE — Born and raised in Chillicothe, Frances Bowen celebrated her 100th birthday with the help of the Chillicothe community.

For the past two weeks, the staff at CareCore at Westmoreland in Chillicothe have been planning a way to amaze Bowen for her milestone birthday. With the help of the community, the centenarian received nearly 200 birthday cards and had a surprise parade hosted in her honor.

“Is this all for me?” Bowen asked while eating cookies and waving to cars passing by her outside of the residential care facility. After the event, she said, “It means a lot that so many people made me cards. And not everyone gets a parade!”

As friends, family and other Chillicothe agencies gathered to celebrate Bowen, she also received at least 170 birthday cards. Children from the Chillicothe Primary School, local daycares and even students at West Elementary in Vinton County created cards.

While Bowen waited for her parade to start, she read through them with a smile. Born in 1920, Bowen has lived her entire life in Chillicothe. Although she never married or had children, she planted roots in the community and found joy in the nieces that she adores.

Looking back on her life, Bowen finds that there are countless sentimental moments and very few regrets. 

Having lived through so many decades, it is impossible for her to pick a favorite from her lifetime. Instead, Bowen focuses on cherished memories like the time she spent ballroom dancing and the day that she retired from the paper mill. 

While she wishes she had traveled more — although she said that since she isn’t dead yet, there’s still time — Bowen’s biggest regret is that she gave up dancing years ago. She fondly remembers the instances where she was able to dress in beautiful, ornate gowns and swing the night away.

“Just keep dancing. I gave it up, and I wish I never would have. But that is good life advice to others as well,” she said.

Historically, Bowen has been excited to witness the evolution of technology. New gadgets like computers and cellphones have changed significantly over the years. And Bowen said they just keep getting fancier.

Furthermore, while the coronavirus outbreak has been an unprecedented event in world history, Bowen doesn’t worry about it too much. Instead, she focuses on spending time with her family by talking to them often. In the future, she’s looking forward to the opportunity to go out, eat and shop again.

And when it comes to living a long, healthy life, Bowen believes she’s found the secret.

“Well, I said I didn’t have a man or children,” she said with a laugh. “I think we all know what kind of stress a man brings.”

Have a story tip or comment? Contact Toria at [email protected] or 740-349-1106. Follow her on Twitter @ToriaBarnhart.

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