“Whoopee and a ring a ding ding!” exclaimed Dolly Gendreau on the morning of her 100th birthday on Dec. 10. Gendreau celebrated turning 100 years young at a party held at the John Burns Gardens, an apartment complex for seniors where Gendreau has lived since 2004. Hosted by the facility’s management company and its regional manager, Julie Packer, the party brought together Gendreau’s friends and family.
At the event, Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor presented a proclamation to Gendreau. Vice Mayor Kathy Watanabe helped Gendreau put on a gift pin.
“I try to associate myself with positive and upbeat people,” Gendreau said of her personal philosophies. “Negative people, I keep them at an arm’s length but I’m nice to them. Age is just a number, a means to keeping track of time…Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow isn’t here yet. Today is the present. When I go downstairs, my aim is to put a smile on the people that I see and meet in the community room.”
Gendreau’s history includes building B24 bombers in a factory for Consolidated Aircraft where her first husband also worked and traveling by boat for 11 years with her second husband.
“At the age of three, I was a sickly child and my parents spent a small fortune trying to help me out,” Gendreau said. “I had to have calf’s liver once a week. Those days, calf’s liver was 90 cents a pound. From then on, I had a second go around and I have been very independent.”
Anne Smith, Gendreau’s daughter, revealed that Gendreau’s first name is actually Dolores. But Dolly is the name Gendreau goes by.
“My mom was born on Dec. 10, 1918 in San Francisco. World War I ended just one month before she was born on November 11, 1918,” added Smith. “My mom is fun-loving and she has a streak of mischief. Her mind is extraordinary.”
In addition to having two children, two grandchildren and two great grandchildren, Gendreau is also known for having surrogate family members.
“Dolly refers to me as her godson,” said Robert Hu, Gendreau’s neighbor and friend in the apartment complex. “A few times a week, we eat lunch together in the community room.”