UK Alumna celebrates 100th birthday

Posted at 1:51 PM, Jun 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-11 17:49:29-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — This morning a very special Lexington lady celebrated her 100th birthday.

The festivities started inside Helen Evans' house with a proclamation from Mayor Linda Gorton, a video message from Gov. Andy Beshear and a serenade from UK opera's Everett McCorvey.

But then Evans walked outside.

On Thursday morning, a usually quiet Lexington street was anything but silent, because it's not every day you can celebrate having lived a whole century.

And not everyone is Helen Evans, a woman ahead of her time with a resume of a life long civic leader, which started when she joined the Women's Army Corp in 1942 during World War II.

Also, the current coronavirus pandemic isn't the only pandemic Evans has lived through.

"Well, I've been through all this before," said Evans. "Back in the 1950s when raising children, polio was still in effect. And it was during the 1950s it finally after 39 years according to Time Magazine, we finally had a vaccine that helped. Of course, that was a pandemic affecting primarily children with lungs and breathing."

When Evans left the Corp years later, she had earned the rank of a captain. But that was just the beginning.

"I think I became a professional volunteer, so to speak," said Evans.

She worked in the U.S. Veterans administration and was the president of the women's group that brought the first ladies miniature collection to the capitol rotunda in Frankfort where its been on display for 50 years.

Among other state and national initiatives, after raising a family she's remained a life-long learner and is currently the oldest student at UK in the lifelong learning program.

"Well, I wish I could be around another hundred years, because I think we've got a great group of young people that are now doing things," said Evans. "They may not have as much time volunteering, but they help in their offices or in their jobs or out, whatever it is, that they may be pursuing.

I think if anything I would like to see the education for opportunities, equal throughout the whole state of Kentucky, meaning that everybody having access to the electronics that are so necessary."

When asked about turning 100 years old, Evans said "it doesn't seem possible. I could knock 30 years off of it and that would be alright.

"Don't let it out of the bag that I'm now 100 because the city might want to have a separate driving test or something," Evans added. "No, I have told everyone if they see a reason that I'm not driving properly, just speak up, and I dare them to try and take my keys!"

And even on her special day, Evans is thinking about others.

"I would like to wish everybody the very best, and may the future when we come out of all be the very kindness to you and all those that you're associated with," said Evans. "So thanks everybody for making my day extra special. And may you have many extra special days."