LACONIA — Surrounded by her son and daughter, grandchildren and great grandchildren along with numerous friends, Bessie Scudder celebrated her 100th birthday at the Taylor Community yesterday.
Scudder was born in Yonkers, New York on August 18, 1915 and has forever remained a New Yorker, as Bob Selig, the chief executive officer of the Taylor Community discovered when he asked her if she were a Yankee fan. "Of course," she snapped with a smile. "I'm from New York."
After graduating from Roosevelt High School — named for Theodore, the 26th president, not Franklin, the 32nd — she went to work as a secretary at an automobile dealership until she married Orvis Victor Scudder in June, 1940. She was known for skill in the kitchen, especially her cookies, and with a needle — needlework, knitting, crocheting, quilting, needlepoint, and embroidery. She played the piano and taught Sunday School at the First Methodist Church in Hackensack, New Jersey and sang in the choir at the Taylor Community.
Noting her fondness for word puzzles, Selig recalled that once playing Charades she struggled for the word "sexy" as her partner writhed languorously in front of her. "I didn't know what she was doing," Scudder laughed. Selig remembered that Scudder led the prayer at breakfast each morning at 7:30 a.m. and, noting that no one has taken her place, wondered if she would come back. "No," she answered. "I'm stationary now." The Scudders lived in Pelham, New York, West Englewood and Oradell, New Jersey, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Summerfield, Florida and Roxbury, New York., But, in the summer, home was a cottage on the shore of Lake Kanasatka in Moultonborough. She has now lived in Laconia for a dozen years.
Scudder enjoyed traveling and site-seeing and when reminded of a favorite trip to Branson, Missouri, interrupted to recall a tour of the White Mountains where "we went up and up and the trees were down below and we were above the clouds. That was the best trip," she said.
Most of Scudder's two children, five grandchildren and seven great grandchildren, drawn from Delaware to California, were on hand as Mayor Ed Engler proclaimed "Bessie Scudder Day " in the city and heard a letter read from Governor Maggie Hassan wishing her a happy birthday.
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