Five generations of a Newhall-based family celebrated Saturday the birthday of their matriarch, Isabell Williams, who turned 95.
Donning a pink, glittery crown and a black sash that read, “95 & fabulous,” Williams said she was thankful to be alive and surrounded by her family during her drive-by celebration held at Old Orchard Park.
“I’m very glad because I was very sick in August,” she said. “My heart was producing a lot of blood and it was going to my brain. I was sick on and off and, in the last three weeks, I’ve been good. So, I’m glad I’m alive.”
The recent health scare was just another hurdle she has surpassed, she said, recalling that she was “a miracle baby.”
“I was born in 1925. At the age of 18 months, I got paralyzed by polio all the way and I didn’t start walking until I was 3 years old. I had a lot of surgeries until I was 15 years old.”
About five years later, Williams would meet her first husband, Thomas Rivera, in Nevada, where he was stationed in the U.S. Air Force. The couple married in 1945, had three children and settled in Newhall — Rivera’s hometown. In 1949, Williams would become a widow after losing the father of her kids during a car crash, she said.
“I was a widow for 10 years, and I married my second husband Frank Williams,” she said, adding that three more kids came along. Soon enough, grandchildren and great-grandchildren would join the family tree.
“It’s a big family and it all starts with her,” said her granddaughter Christine Johnson, who organized the birthday celebration. “(Newhall) has changed so much since she was here but you have that nice hometown feel.
When Isabell first came, Newhall was only “fields. There was corn, watermelons, you name it. When I came I didn’t know anybody, just about three people. Then after that, I knew the whole town,” she said.
“What better way to show her (Isabell) that she’s still celebrated and loved than to do it in her local hometown instead of in front of the house?,” said Johnson. “So many people know her, know her kids and this way they can drive by and honk and wave and say, ‘Happy birthday.’”