KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – In the 1950s, Rachel Buff and her husband Vernon headed to Daytona Beach for their honeymoon. Along the way they stopped in Keystone Heights and upon returning home from the …
KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – In the 1950s, Rachel Buff and her husband Vernon headed to Daytona Beach for their honeymoon. Along the way they stopped in Keystone Heights and upon returning home from the trip, the pair decided to return to Keystone and make it their home.
In the next half century, the Buffs became a vital part of the Keystone Heights community, running Buff’s Garage, and raised a family that has remained in the area. Last week Rachel turned 100 years old on Friday, March 2, and celebrated with a birthday party held in her honor by the Keystone community that she has been so involved in during the second half of her life.
“She’s been part of our community since she moved here,” said Myra Lewis, who works with Buff at the Senior Center and Lake Area Ministries. “She’s always been active and always been a part of everything here.”
To say that Buff stays active is an understatement, maintaining a level of activity that would be high for someone decades younger than 100. She volunteers at the Keystone Heights Senior Center where she serves daily meals to the center’s clients, most of whom are much younger than Buff. She also helps out with Lake Area Ministries in Keystone, an organization she has stayed involved with for decades.
“She just loves everybody, and in turn, they love her back,” said her son, Gene Coble. “Everybody [in Keystone] is her neighbor, she’s friendly to everybody she meets.”
Coble remembers growing up in Keystone where his mother was known for her ambitious spirit and kind nature. As he grew older and had kids of his own, and those kids had kids, and so on, their family grew into dozens of people who looked up to Rachel and aimed to be active members of the Keystone community with many sticking around. Some of Buff’s great- and great-great-grandchildren attended the party last Friday.
“She always liked to be doing something,” Coble said. “Up until a couple years back she was still jogging three to five miles a day.”
Stories about Buff and her energetic nature were the theme of the day. If you talk to her, you’ll understand why her secret to aging gracefully is to not be complacent.
“Get out and get some exercise, and watch what you eat,” Buff said. “Don’t just sit and watch television all day!”
Buff also noted that she had been blessed with naturally good health and taken care of herself over the years, but for her, activity is the best medicine.
When she woke up the morning of the party, she had no idea what she was in for. In her mind, she was headed to the Senior Center, like always, where she would eat her noon meal and maybe a piece of cake with her friends and colleagues at the center. Instead she got the red, or in this case blue, carpet treatment.
She started the day in hair and makeup before heading outside where a long white limousine was waiting to pick her up, her first limo ride in all 100 years. As she made her way to the party, signs lined her route including a big happy birthday wish on the marquee of Johnny’s Restaurant on State Road 21. Finally, she arrived at the Senior Center, but instead was taken across the road to the outdoor pavilion where the party was waiting.
She was escorted from the limo through a balloon arch and down a long blue carpet to her seat at the head table. The entire event was drenched in blue – Buff’s favorite color – and the smell of her favorite foods, fried chicken and potato salad, filled the air while oldies karaoke serenaded guests.
“The whole day has been one big surprise,” Buff said, smiling. “I didn’t know any of this was going to happen.”