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Friends, family help Vi Williams have a happy 95th birthday at Chatfield

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
Tamara Massey (right) exchanges greetings with her grandmother, Vi Williams, at the Chatfield Assisted Living facility Monday afternoon during a birthday celebration for Williams, who turned 95.
Madeleine Goff, and eighth-grader at Brownwood Middle School, smiles after greeting her pen pal, Vi Williams, through patio door window panes at the Chatfield Assisted Living Facility.

Ranging in age from early teens to senior citizens, about a dozen of Vi Williams’ friends and family stood outside a patio door Monday at the Chatfield Assisted living facility, where they gave Williams an informal — and surprise — 95th birthday party.

COVID-19 restrictions prevented the group from going inside to help Williams celebrate.

Seated just inside the patio door, Williams watched in delight as her friends and family stood outdoors and sang “Happy Birthday,” took photos and exchanged waves and greetings.

“She’s just the strongest woman I know,” Williams’ 34-year-old granddaughter, Tamara Massey, said after greeting her grandmother through the glass. “I love her very much.”

Several spoke with Williams on cellphones as others called out.

“Hi, Vi, happy birthday!”

“Are you having a fun day?”

“You’ve got a lot of friends out here that love you.”

Madeleine Goff, a Brownwood Middle School eighth-grader, smiled broadly as she greeted Williams through the glass.

Madeleine, who is the daughter of Sam and Kylah Goff, explained that she’s been pen pals with Williams for nearly a year.

“It was about March when COVID was starting, and I had gotten some cards for Christmas to write to people,”  Madeleine said. “Mom suggested that I write to some of the elderly people in our church, and so I started writing them, and Vi was one of those that responded.

“I really enjoyed doing that and we have been doing that for nearly a year now. It’s been a great experience. My mom says it’s a ministry to other people but I really feel like it’s been a ministry to me. I really enjoy doing that,” she said.