Betty Calcara of Shawnee celebrates 90th birthday ‘COVID style’ with distanced well wishes from loved ones

Betty Calcara, a long-time Shawnee resident and member of St. Joseph Church, celebrated her 90th birthday “COVID” style on Oct. 31.

Betty Calcara, a long-time Shawnee resident and member of St. Joseph Church, celebrated her 90th birthday “COVID style” this year.

Calcara’s family organized some surprise celebrations, including a birthday parade of more than 50 friends and family driving by her home to offer her well wishes. She also enjoyed Zoom calls with friends and family. The city of Shawnee proclaimed Calcara’s birthday — Oct. 31, 1930 — to be Betty Calcara Day in Shawnee.

“I had been reflecting throughout the year about my turning 90 years old, wondering what it would be like, and when that day finally came, I was overwhelmed with surprises and blessings,” Calcara said. “Some of the day’s activities that my son Mickey and family planned for me made me feel young again.”

She also enjoyed a special lunch prepared by her daughter-in-law, Kathy, and granddaughters Emily and Kat, who joined a small family gathering.

“By the end of the day, I was tired, but did not feel old,” Calcara said. “I recall feeling refurbished because of the blessings of the day that I had received.”

While Calcara leads an active lifestyle, arthritis prevents her from keeping up with household chores and yard work. Nonetheless, she enjoys helping out with various writing projects for her church as co-editor of St. Joseph’s monthly newsletter for members.

“I find myself thinking each day more often about all the past years regarding the many friends I made throughout them,” Calcara said.

She credits those friends for guiding her through her professional career, which began at age 16 at Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City — a 33-year career. She later worked for Shawnee State Bank for five years, then 16  years at St. Joseph Church and a brief stint at the Shawnee Journal Herald.

“Those career days were happy ones, and somehow they kept me feeling young,” Calcara said. “When I retired from St. Joseph Church on Dec. 31, 2001, at age 71, many said they didn’t think I looked old enough to retire! A great compliment that helped to keep me feeling young.

“This pretty much expresses how I feel at 90. I am so very blessed with memories, family and friends.”