A week from Monday, Marigold Kent will officially be 100 years old. But friends and family – from as far away as California and Tennessee – decided to celebrate a little early.
On Friday, they surprised Kent with a birthday party in the community room at Farmington Place on Grand River in Farmington. She entered the room to a warm round of applause from the dozens of guests who came out to honor the much-loved mother, grandmother and friend.
Kent seemed overwhelmed by all the attention; Farmington Mayor Tom Buck delivered a proclamation, as did State Rep. Vicki Barnett (D-37th District). Barnett's was signed by her, State Sen. Vince Gregory and Gov. Rick Snyder.
"Father Time is not always a hard parent," Barnett read, "and though he tarries for none of his children, he often lays his hand lightly on those who have used him well. And you have used him well."
Kent's granddaughter, Ronny DeMatteis of Farmington Hills, said she initially shared the idea of a surprise party with Farmington Place property manager Diane Walters. "She took over and went to town," DeMatteis said, noting that is typical.
"Her job is a labor of love. There may be 150 apartments, but this is one roof and one family. They have been amazing to my grandparents since they moved here. They made their lives so happy and so joyful."
Edmund Kent passed away at age 95, DeMatteis said. "He lived a very happy and long life. They had a loving, incredible marriage ... they always had a lot of love to share."
A number of close friends attended the party; Barbara and Howard Packard and Louella and Conrad Hempel all attended Southfield Community Church, where the Kents are charter members. Located in the Eight Mile and Inkster area, the church drew families from Farmington Township (now Farmington Hills), Southfield, Redford and Livonia.
"Ed used to count the money at church," Conrad Hemple said, and when failing health kept Kent close to home, "we would come here to do the counting so he could help. Marigold would always have a cup of coffee and a sweet roll, or bread she baked."
The couples attribute their long-lasting friendship, in part, to the church. Luella Hemple said in times past, it offered far more activities than the schools did.
"It's like a family," she said.