Bernice Morse was a colicky baby in the summer of 1916. Her father, Stan, would take her for walks in their Erie, Pennsylvania neighborhood and sing to her: “You are my Sunshine.” Their neighbors would say, “There goes Stan with his Sunshine.” The name stuck, and she’s been Sunny ever since.
Sunny has lived at Chelsea Retirement Community since 2006 when she and her husband, Bill, a retired Psychology professor at University of Michigan, moved to Independent Living (Bill passed away in 2008). Today, Sunny is a resident at Glazier Commons Assisted Living.
Sunny and her daughter, Suzy, are a common sight at Glazier Commons, enjoying the gardens, walking around the CRC campus, and watching the birds at the feeders outside Sunny’s window. “We have a lot of adventures,” says Suzy, herself a retired Kindergarten teacher. It is easy to see that this mother and daughter love being together.
Suzy has many happy childhood memories of life growing up with her parents and younger brother, Jim. One of her earliest is of her mother’s flower garden at their Ann Arbor home. Suzy remembers putting her tiny dolls inside tulip flowers and pretending they were having tea. She also has fond memories of spending summers with her family at the University’s Fresh Air Camp on Patterson Lake, a therapeutic camp for troubled youth, where her father served as camp director from 1945 to 1961. “My brother and I were born during camp,” says Suzy.
Sunny, a stay-at-home mom and avid volunteer, baked a birthday cake for each boy (200 campers per summer!) who had a birthday during the camp months. Suzy says Sunny made a cake nearly every day, and she and her brother loved to lick the bowls and the frosting. One of Sunny’s favorite camp memories was when one of the boys carried Suzy on his shoulders when she was a toddler. “Suzy reminded the boys of their younger siblings who they missed while at camp,” recalls Sunny.
Sunny celebrates her 101st birthday today (May 12) along with Mother’s Day this Sunday. She remains an active volunteer, from involvement in the League of Women Voters, a passion she has had for many years, to participating in “Busy Fingers” at Glazier Commons, a group that does community service projects such as making toys for cats at the local Humane Society and dolls for firemen to have in their trucks to give children in distress. Sunny also attends the Movin’ & Groovin’ exercise classes offered at Glazier Commons and keeps up with the events of the day through the “Coffee and Current Events” class led by the Life Enrichment team.
Suzy treasures the time she spends with her mom. “I am so grateful to all the staff at Assisted Living who take such good care of Mom,” says Suzy. “Mom’s physical needs are taken care of so she and I can have a real mother-daughter relationship and just have fun together. I feel so, so lucky that I still have my mom. It means a lot to me (and Sunny added, “It means a lot for me, too!”) There are a lot of people here who care about us and we care about them.”