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'Extra special': Senior to celebrate 23rd leap year birthday

'I always felt left out. I didn't think it was fair that everybody got a birthday each year and I had to wait,' says Beverley Baker, who was born in 1932
Beverley Baker holds a silver-plated baby mug she received on her date of birth, which fell on a leap year: Feb. 29, 1932.

An Orillia senior is set to celebrate her birthday next week for just the 23rd time.

Beverley Baker was born in a leap year.

Baker, 91, was born at Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital on Feb. 29, 1932. She received numerous gifts from local merchants, including a silver spoon from the Orillia Packet & Times.

Other gifts included baby bath powder, warm blankets, and a silver-plated baby mug. Merchants also came together to supply Baker with a pint of milk that was delivered to her home every day for the first year of her life.

"I obviously don't remember that, but it's quite amazing," Baker said. "The merchants were very generous."

She says she is often asked how she marks her birthday each year, even though the anniversary of her actual date of birth comes around only once every four years.

"I always celebrate on leap year day if it is a leap year," she explained. "In other years, I've celebrated it on the last day of February or whenever it's convenient for my family."

While Baker has marked her birthday each year with a cake, it only truly feels like her birthday when the calendar reads Feb. 29.

"When you are a kid, it feels like a long time between birthdays," she said. "When you're four years old, it's a long time until you are eight years old."

Baker, who lives at the Sundial Lakeview Retirement Residence, says she didn't like having a leap year birthday as a child.

"I always felt left out," she said. "I didn't think it was fair that everybody got a birthday each year and I had to wait."

While she wasn't a fan of her unique birth date as a child, she is now glad she was born in a leap year.

"Time goes by quickly as you get older," she said. "I think I've enjoyed having a leap year birthday as I've gotten older."

To mark the occasion this year, Baker is travelling to Florida with two of her three children and will be staying at a family home. She will be visiting with some of her five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

"This year, it feels extra special to me," she said. "I don't think I'll have too many more birthdays because I'm 92 this year."

On Feb. 29, while in Florida, her family will mark her special occasion with a "big family dinner," which she is looking forward to.

"They always do something special to mark the day," she said. "They've always made sure there was a party or that they've at least called to say hi."

Baker spent her youth working on her grandfather's farm. In her adult years, she was a kindergarten teacher at St. Paul's United Church. She went on to become a supply and French teacher at most of the Orillia and Ramara public schools.

When she was 18, she married Douglas, who was an army veteran of 36 years and served during the Korean War.

Baker says her secret to a good, long life has been keeping busy.

"When Douglas was in the army, we were always posted here, there and everywhere," she said. "We would be posted every couple of years, so we were always on the move."

Through her experiences in teaching, being a mother, and being a wife, Baker says she has done a lot of learning through the years.

"I'm always learning new things," she said. "I love to keep active and used to do lots of sports and line dancing. It's important to keep on the go and always be trying new things."

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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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