After ‘retiring’ to Laurel 42 years ago, woman celebrates her 100th birthday

02/20/2013 7:00 AM |

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Winifred Riches of Laurel was joined by her great niece Sarah Cassidy and niece Una Cassidy Tuesday afternoon to celebrate her 100th birthday.

To celebrate her centennial birthday, Winifred Riches of Laurel gathered with her “bridge crew” to recall some of her favorite memories over the past 100 years. Her niece, Una Cassidy, and great niece, Sarah Cassidy, traveled from Belfast, Ireland to celebrate.

“She always talks about how she lost her hat the day World War II ended,” Sarah Cassidy said. “She lost it when they all threw them up to celebrate.”

Mrs. Riches was in Manhattan on Aug. 14, 1945 when President Harry Truman announced the war had ended. Her soon to be husband, Thomas Riches, served in the war.

Mrs. Riches was born in Northern Ireland Feb. 19, 1913, and immigrated to Canada at age 17 to help her father with work. She eventually moved to New York City where she met her late husband. The couple, who never had any children, retired to Laurel over 42 years ago to enjoy time by the water and on the golf course — a few of Mrs. Riches’ favorite pastimes.

“She is a wonderful lady. She is charismatic and loves God,” said Comfort Amissah, Mrs. Riches’ live-in aid.  “She taught me how to play golf in the garden.”

Although she can’t make it to the course these days, she still plays bridge every Monday night, Mrs. Riches said.

“She’s capable and able,” Sarah Cassidy said. “She did everything, and she took care of her husband.”

Sarah Cassidy recalled how her great aunt and uncle ended up in their Laurel home more than four decades earlier.

Mrs. Riches was searching for a retirement destination. Her husband said, “Now don’t you go buying a house.” She came back and said, “I bought a plot,” Sarah Cassidy joked.

Mrs. Riches home today sits on that very same plot.

cmiller@timesreview.com