Meet Beatrice Gillar, or Bea to you. Bea and her family celebrated her birthday at McLoone’s Boathouse in West Orange, NJ, just a short walk from the Turtle Back Zoo. You might know Bea as a published songwriter, a college graduate, trumpet player, mom, a grandmother, an aunt, cousin, friend, and now a centenarian.
As she put it in the song that she wrote and performed for all her guests, “it’s only a number,” and she certainly proved that. By the end of the party, my feet were sore, but Bea was up dancing and partying more than folks half her age. I barely saw her sit between greeting family with warm smiles and big hugs, throwing her walker aside to dance to the 11-piece band Brass Illusion, and get absolutely taken aback by friends she hasn’t seen in upwards of 35 years.
Bea’s enthusiasm for life was infectious: even the restaurant staff couldn’t help but singing along as the band performed Bea’s most famous song, “But I Say I Love You,” dancing, and smiling the whole time and members of the band would periodically take pictures of their guest of honor having blast.