Oct. 14—Wilma Tilson has enjoyed plenty of birthday parties over the years, and she's ready for more as she celebrated her 100th on Thursday.
"Hello, let's have a party," Tilson said to her family as she rolled into the community room at Miller's Merry Manor wearing her pink "Birthday Girl" ribbon and sash.
The family gathered around a table that featured pictures of Tilson from throughout her life as they toasted champagne and ate cake and ice cream.
Tilson was born just two years after the Treaty of Versailles was signed, marking the end of World War I. The Shelbyville native said she grew up with a horse and buggy at her home and didn't have electricity when she was young. She moved to Johnson County after her father died to be near her sister. She would meet her husband, Leonard, who was a native of the area.
Most of her life was spent working as a telephone operator before the job became obsolete. Later, she and Leonard would operate a little country grocery store in a rural area outside of Greenwood.
She recalled her husband going to get a pair of shoes and coming home with their first TV. She said it was a "tiny little thing," but it was exciting to her.
Leonard died in 1979, according to the Franklin Daily Journal, at the age of 66. She would go on to move to Logansport to be close to her daughter and granddaughter.
Tilson said she isn't sure how she became a centenarian.
"I have no idea," she said. "It just happened. It wasn't 'cause I was a good girl."
One theory by the family was good genes, since her sisters lived to be 97.
"I'm a tough old girl," she said.
According to the United Nations, there were approximately 72,000 centenarians in the U.S. in 2015 — the latest data available — making Wilma part of a small group to reach the milestone.
They laughed as they reminisced about the years. When asked how it feels to reach 100, Tilson laughed and said "with her fingers."
For the celebration, she asked for champagne that Miller's provided for her. She had a toast with her family, who came from as far as Michigan to celebrate.
"And a good time was had by all," Tilson said.