Long-time Edmonds resident Lionel Duvernay on Dec. 30 celebrated his 100th birthday surrounded by nearly 100 friends and family members during a luncheon party at Holy Rosary Parish Center.
The festivities, hosted by Duvernay’s daughter Madeline Ancelard of Edmonds, opened with a celebratory welcome from Holy Rosary’s Rev. Kenneth Haydock. Haydock presented Duvernay with a congratulatory proclamation from Archbishop of Seattle J. Peter Sartain, and noted that the 100-year-old is the parish’s second oldest member (the eldest is 102 and lives in Edmonds).
Duvernay’s attainment of centenarian status is a distinction on a number of levels, explained Maria Aubry, who is married to one of Duvernay’s nephews. Aubry told My Edmonds News that the patriarch’s century mark is a first for the family.
Aubry was joined by her husband in a party of five that also included Duvernay’s niece Edra Widener and her husband Michael; nephew Bruce Aubry and wife, Maria; and nephew Gerald Aubry. The group made a one-day round trip from Los Angeles for the party.
Duvernay held court at the centerpiece table as friends mingled with family, and stories of his life were shared. He chatted with friends that his daughter had made over the years during her Naval career. This included Midge Loser and Frances Frazier of Bremerton; and Patsy and Bobby Baker of Silverdale, among many others.
My Edmonds News was alerted to this special occasion by Edmonds Senior Center Program Manager Michelle Burke, “We joke about him hitting ‘triple digits.’ He is the first person in my five years at the center who will be turning 100 but who also still comes around so regularly!”
New Orleans, Louisiana is Duvernay’s hometown. His daughter notes with pride that her father still speaks a little French. A tribute to his Southern roots was emblematic on the cake served at his party.
Once WWII erupted, Duvernay joined the Army Air Force (as it was then named) with a duty station at New Caldonia. As a testament to his commitment to the war effort, he was number 37 in the newly-established draft of 1940, according to Madeline.
After leaving the military, he made his home in Los Angeles and became a master cement finisher, building a successful business as “the boys came home” and the post-war housing boom took off.
After Duvernay’s wife died in 1995, he began visiting Edmonds quite regularly and moved to Edmonds to live with Ancelard five years ago.
Over the years, Duvernay has been amazed by technological changes; particularly microwave ovens. Looking back, he notes the introduction of antibiotics, and advancements in medicine as wondrous events.
After he moved to Edmonds, Duvernay took up a number of activities at the Edmonds Senior Center, including “playing pool, which he became quite good at,” his daughter said. More recently, he has been visiting the Senior Center to meet luncheon friends and sometimes enjoys a foot massage.
In response to the age-old question, to what does he owe his longevity, Duvernay responds: “Living a good life, eating in moderation and long walks.”
— By Emily Hill