Irons woman turned 100 on New Year's Day
ELK TWP. — The large attendance at the birthday party for Vicki Kasper at the Elk Township Hall on Saturday is a testament to the lives she has touched in her 100 years.
Born as Victoria Gutowsky on Jan. 1, 1918, Kasper has lived in the Irons area all of her life, getting to know the community and visitors to the area as the founder of Elk Tavern in Irons, which is now Jackie's Place. She also was a waitress at the Na-Tah-Ka tavern.
Lou Fitz, Elk Township supervisor, who also is Kasper's neighbor, hosted her party at the township hall.
"I am the closest neighbor to Vicki. If she pushes Life Alert, it dials 911, and then me. I help take care of her snow or furnace if it breaks," he said. "Vicki was born a mile west of the township hall on River Road. As township supervisor, we were privileged to host her 100th birthday. It was an honor to do so, especially for a lifelong resident like Vicki."
Fitz presented Kasper a large framed photograph of her at the centennial celebration of the Elk Township Hall in 2014.
Kasper was grateful to all who helped celebrate the milestone of her 100th birthday.
"Thank you everybody for coming. God bless all of you. I am happy to have such wonderful people in my life," she said, adding her grandchildren catered the food and bought the cake, which had poker decorations, a game she loves. "All my kids, grandkids and great-grandkids helped make this day special."
As a youth, Kasper loved the outdoors.
"When I was little, I loved ice skating and skiing. I lived by the Little Manistee River, and spent summers swimming in the river, where Cool Creek dumps into it. I climbed every tree. I was a tomboy," she said. "I married my husband Ed when I was about 20. We opened up the Elk Tavern in Irons, and I worked at Na-Tah-ka. I love people, and I got to work in places where I met all sorts of them."
Longevity runs in her family. Kasper has a 105-year-old sister in California who she still talks to on the phone a few times a week. Her brothers lived into their 90s.
Mary Beth Frizzell attended the party. Kasper spent 10 years getting her hair done in Frizzell's shop in Baldwin.
"Vicki would drive to my shop every Thursday for nearly 10 years. I met her when she was 90. When she reached 99 years old, she decided she couldn't drive here anymore. That was a tearjerker, because I loved seeing her so much. We both cried. We always had so much fun and she is like a grandma to me," she said.
Patsy Riggs, who helps take care of Kasper, also was at the party.
"I take Vicki out to eat or to get her hair done. I worked with her back in the '60s at Na-Tah-Ka. She gets around really well. She's her own lady. We were sitting at the table one day, and she said her kids were too bossy. I asked her if I was bossy too, and she said yes. She is a very neat lady," she said.
In addition to the honor of a birthday party, Kasper's granddaughter Diane Gerberding said they requested for her to be on the "Today" show to recognize her 100th birthday.