Santa Clarita’s newest centenarian is Shirley June Thelin, who celebrated the occasion of her 100th birthday Saturday surrounded by friends and several generations of family.
Thelin was smiling throughout her party, which was organized by her daughter Georgene Christensen, of Valencia, who fondly remembered going to dinner and movies with her mother Wednesday nights when Thelin lived in Burbank decades ago.
“I did not expect all of this,” Thelin, an Illinois native, said of the festivities. “It’s really terrific.”
Thelin said she’s had a wonderful life and a beautiful husband, George Theil, of 52 years.
Whenever George would find Shirley in the kitchen, she recalled, George, who was a cook in the Army in World War II, would tell her to find something else to do.
“In the kitchen, he took over,” said Thelin, who’s lived with Christensen and her husband, Harry, at their Valencia home for the past four years.
Thelin and her husband owned Burbank Florist in the San Fernando Valley, where they lived for nearly 25 years after World War II.
“I remember running around the flower shop,” said Neil Christensen, of Glendale, Thelin’s grandson. “They had an upstairs (and) downstairs so sometimes I’d play upstairs you know and then I come down to watch them making flowers.”
The Thelins were members of the Burbank Tournament of Roses Association and supplied the flowers for Burbank’s float in the Rose Parade each year.
They also made the flower arrangements at Judy Cazian’s wedding.
“They were like my mom and dad,” said Cazian, who met Shirley, Georgene and Shirley’s mother on a flight to Hawaii when she was 18 years old. “They were very happy.”
Many of the family’s happiest memories were shared at Thelin’s beach house in San Antonia del Mar, Mexico.
“We spent every summer there as children,” said Kristie Worden, of Castaic, Thelin’s granddaughter, recalling games of Scrabble and Gin with “Nana” and “Papa.” “We just always played games and went to the beach.”
Mark Christensen, Georgene’s youngest son, also remembered the summers at his grandparents’ beach house.
“It’s amazing to me,” he said of his grandmother turning 100 years old. “You can still sit down and talk to her and, you know, she has a lot of fond memories.”
For over two decades Thelin lived in Las Vegas, where she enjoyed playing the slot machines.
In 2017, at the age of 95, as Thelin’s dementia worsened, Georgene said it was time for Thelin to move in with family.
“If you had (asked Thelin) probably five years ago, she would have told you that her secret is never going to the doctor,” Georgene said, noting that Thelin loves to sit under the sun.
Though Thelin was indoors during the party, her great-grandchildren enjoyed being under the sun in the pool in the backyard.
Kal Christensen, 13, said he was excited to see his great-grandmother. He said one of his fondest memories was visiting Thelin at her home in Vegas.
“We (would) go to the casinos and just hang out and all day,” he said, calling her empowering and witty in a poem that he wrote and that was shared before the family cut the cake.