Moncton senior all smiles at turning 104, receives birthday wishes galore

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New Brunswick man celebrates 104th birthday
A New Brunswick man’s family asked people to send him a birthday card for every year he’s been alive – all 104 of them. They got more than they bargained for. Suzanne Lapointe reports – May 17, 2024

Few people are as experienced in celebrating birthdays as Moncton’s Lawrence Stiles, who turned 104 years old on Friday.

Speaking from the comfort of the care home where he currently resides, Stiles admitted he can’t quite pinpoint what helped him make it this far in life.

“I have no idea. I couldn’t tell you,” he laughed, before offering a bit of wisdom to younger generations hoping to experience similar longevity.

“Stay out of trouble.”

The COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on celebrations of Stiles birthday for the first few years after he reached the milestone of 100 years in 2020. So, this year, his family decided to do something memorable and called on the public to help make the occasion extra special.

His family purchased newspaper advertisements and spread the word on social media that they were looking to receive 104 birthday cards to match Stile’s age.

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“We had COVID when he turned 100. We still had COVID at 101 (years old), 102, and 103, so this is the first year that the restrictions have really been relaxed,” said Susan Linkletter, Stile’s granddaughter.

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“He’s not a big party guy. He wouldn’t have wanted a big party, so this is a way we can show him that the public still thinks about him.”

As the birthday cards started to pile up, Linkletter said the family began receiving mail from outside New Brunswick.

“It really showed him how special he is,” Linkletter said.

To the family’s surprise, the outcome exceeded the ask — they received a total of 160 birthday cards.

Stiles’ daughter-in-law, Judy Stiles, said she was amazed by the outpouring support from people both near and far.

“That really brought smiles to his face. Every card he looked at, he loved those cards,” she said.

“That’s just how much he’s loved everywhere he goes.”

Birthday cards were sent from people who lived in Stiles’ neighbourhood for years, along with many that were made by elementary school students throughout New Brunswick.

Stiles expressed his gratitude for the number of cards he received, calling the good wishes as a “wonderful” gesture.

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Although, he said it might take some time for him to make his way through.

“I don’t think I’ve got them all read yet,” he said, laughing.

Stiles, who grew up in the village of Petitcodiac, N.B., was a nine years old when the great depression started, so he couldn’t help but think of the cost of all the cards he received throughout the week.

“I don’t know how much a card is… but it’s over a dollar a piece,” he said.

As for his next birthday, Stiles said he hasn’t planned that far ahead.

“Next birthday?” he asked with a smile. “I don’t expect to be around!”

Those close to Stiles, however, would like to keep him nearby and in good health for as long as possible. In the meantime, he’ll be working on reading through all those birthday cards.

“He did spend a lot of time going over his cards and reading them and he never believed that enough people would bother to send him a card and that we’d actually get to 100,” Linkletter said.

“I just want to thank everybody for doing that.”

— with files from Suzanne Lapointe


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