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HomeNewsArchives106-Year-Old Honored for First V.I. Grandparents Day

106-Year-Old Honored for First V.I. Grandparents Day

Sept. 7, 2008 — "You gotta have joy" was the theme Sunday as Grandparents Day was celebrated in Emancipation Gardens, the park filled with the smiling faces of grandparents surrounded by their families amidst decorations of silk flowers and red, white and blue banners.
This was the first time that the holiday, which was started during President Jimmy Carter's administration in 1978, has been celebrated as a recognized territory-wide event. Government officials say they hope to make it an annual celebration. First lady Cecile deJongh was a driving force behind the organization of the day, following its official proclamation by the government.
"Nothing had been done," she said. "We needed to as a community honor the grandparents …who have helped shape and mold our families, our society and our consciousness as citizens of this great country."
The administration spent two months planning for the event,which occurs on the first Sunday after Labor Day, as well as five hours making box meals that were passed out to the audience.
Gov. John deJongh Jr. presented a plaque to the oldest grandparent in the St. Thomas/St. John area, who was found through a Human Resources survey of the islands. The 106-year-old honoree, Ursula Krigger, could not be there to receive the plaque, but one of her four grandchildren, Sean Krigger, accepted on her behalf. He spoke of "that joy" his grandmother exhibits.
"She loves to talk and she laughs," he said.
Ursula Krigger, who is also a great grandmother, spoke to the Source by phone.
"I can't see, but I enjoy the TV," she said. "I listen to the radio and the news every day. I don't miss anything."
In regards to the award, she said, "I am very glad, thank you."
Iyvonne Moolenar, an old friend of the centenarian, spoke of how Krigger often watched her third daughter, Lillian.
"She raised a lot of children," Moolenar said of her friend, who she also noted is affectionately called Aunt Sullie by those who know her. "She was a teacher and is very sharp. She knows everything and remembers everyone. She has a strong spirit."
Mistress of Ceremonies Lisa Smith-Jones conducted the event with inspirational speech and song. Also featured was local entertainment by singers, dancers and choirs, as well as a reading of Maya Angelou's poem "On Aging" by National Recitation Contest winner Shawntay Henry.
The Mungo Niles Cultural Dancers also performed, and invited some of the grandparents in the audience to get up and join them to dance the mazurka and the seven-step. Eighty-seven-year-old Amy Griffin and 59-year-old Genevieve Hyacinth Francis danced exuberantly along with the group.
The governor also spoke of the landmark upcoming presidential election, in which an African American, Barack Obama, is the leading candidate of a national party. He also noted the importance Obama has placed on grandparents, as his often took care of him when his parents could not.
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