Seymour woman turns 103


In her five years at Covered Bridge Health Campus, Vera Brittingham has made it a priority to have a card signed for fellow residents’ birthdays.

On Wednesday, the residents and staff had a card for her.

The oldest resident of the Seymour senior living facility celebrated her 103rd birthday.


When she hit the century mark three years ago, her reaction was “It feels like any other day. I don’t feel any different.”

For her 103rd birthday, she had a similar response.

“It’s just another day,” she said, smiling. “I’ve done just what I wanted to do.”

Along with a card, Brittingham was presented a bouquet of flowers, balloons and cake, and some staff members sang “Happy Birthday.” Matraca Gilbert, life enrichment director for Covered Bridge, also let off a confetti popper.

Gilbert said she’s impressed with Brittingham attending exercise Monday through Friday and being an active member of the euchre club.

“She’ll attend practically every activity we have as long as she is interested,” Gilbert said. “I would say she’s just a wonderful woman to be around, and to be able to have that sense of humor at 103, she does have a very good sense of humor still, and she just keeps us on our toes, which I love. I love to see her active.”

Licensed Practical Nurse Tamantha Lotton has enjoyed getting to know Brittingham the past two years.

“She doesn’t require a lot of help. At 103, she’s pretty spunky all around,” Lotton said. “I think it’s amazing. She’s up walking, and we have a lot of younger people in the world that can’t even begin to do what she does. She’s a pretty cool cat. I see a lot of years left in her.”

Executive Director Angie Short said Brittingham’s long life has a lot to do with her positive attitude.

“She’s just always happy, and she’s always excited to join in and do things,” Short said. “I think she stays active, and I think that has a lot to do with it. She’s wonderful.”

Short said she has never seen Brittingham without a smile.

“Two days ago, I said, ‘Are you ready for your birthday?’ and she said, ‘I absolutely am,'” Short said. “Her 100th birthday, I had been here just almost about a year. Her attitude has stayed the same the entire time, and to make it through the pandemic with that is great.”

Born May 26, 1918, in Fort Branch in southwestern Indiana, she is the daughter of the late Robert and Hattie Polk. She had one older brother, Harold Polk, who died in 1997.

After graduating from high school in Fort Branch, she worked for four years in the office of a printing company but never returned to the workforce after she met Robert Brittingham. They married in 1940.

Robert worked for The Morris Five and Ten Cent Store in Greensburg, and that’s where they set up a house.

When Robert entered the U.S. Air Force, he was stationed in Georgia, and Vera went and stayed with him.

Vera became pregnant while they were in Georgia and learned her husband was being transferred to Washington, so he took her back home where her parents lived. Their only child, Alan, was born two weeks after she made it back to Indiana.

Robert served three years in the military. Then the couple moved to Lebanon, Ohio, followed by Portland, Indiana, and then to New Castle before landing in Madison, where they ended up living for more than 60 years.

After Robert died in December 2013, Vera moved in with her son and his wife, Carol.

“The best I could find out, they were the oldest living couple in Indiana and in the top 50 in the United States,” Alan said of his parents’ 73½ years together.

Throughout her life, Vera has enjoyed playing cards, especially bridge, and she used to make a lot of her clothes with her sewing skills.

Now at Covered Bridge, she likes playing euchre, bingo and volleyball, the latter for exercise. She also likes devotions.

Alan said his mother has always been there to support the family.

“Dad worked a lot, so Mom was always there,” Alan said. “She has been a great mother.”

He recalled a time when he took his mother to the doctor for a checkup. She was in her late 90s and living with him and his wife in Madison.

“He did all of the checks and the blood work and all that, and he came out and he said, ‘Well, you want the good news first or the bad news?'” Alan said. “She says, ‘Well, I want the good news.’ He says, ‘I can’t find anything wrong with you.’ She said, ‘What’s the bad news then?’ He said, ‘I had to change your life span from 100 to 110.'”

Vera said she still remembers that day. She has seven more years to reach that mark, so what does she think about making it to 110?

“Well, I think it’s too old,” she said, laughing.

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