James Kasal, a resident of Covenant Place in Waxahachie, celebrated his 101st birthday Tuesday, Dec. 18 surrounded by friends and family members.
As James sat amidst family, friends and fellow residents, cracking jokes and graciously sharing hugs and kisses at his birthday party. He made light of his monumental birthday.
“Honestly, I don’t feel any older,” James said, smiling. “In fact, I’m not even going to count this birthday. Let’s just pretend it didn’t happen.”
According to his nephew, James keeps everyone around him in stitches.
“As long as I’ve known him, he’s been this way,” Norman Kasal said. “He will keep you laughing with one story or joke after another.”
And that’s exactly the approach he took during his party.
“I’d like to make a speech right now, but I don’t have one,” James jested. “So I think I’ll just sit right here and stare at all these people I don’t recognize.”
Panning the members in the audience, he quickly wisecracked, “Some of the people here I know. Others just walk by my door and I don’t pay them any attention.”
Several of the people he was referring to were other residents, who began laughing and offered some words of thanks to James. Addie Bennett said she has the pleasure of eating with James every day.
“I not only eat with him all the time, but I live across the hall from him,” Bennett said. “He’s a very nice person. He also likes for people to laugh at everything he says, and I do whether it’s funny or not.”
Janice Zuniga stood and said she’s never in her life hugged a 101-year-old man that made her feel so good.
“He hugged me and kissed me on the cheek, and I loved every minute of it,” Zuniga said. “He also told me that he plans on living another 20 years. I think that’s pretty remarkable.”
Everyone in attendance seemed to agree with Zuniga concerning James being a remarkable and special person.
Another one of Jame’s nephews, James Crutcher, was at the party and said he’s had the honor of being named after his uncle. Crutcher said he considers that to be very special and he loves his uncle James dearly.
James has more fans who love and adore him than just those in attendance at this birthday party. Sherry Walker, the activities director for Covenant Place, reached out to her Facebook friends to wish James a happy birthday. Walker said they not only met her request but went above and beyond.
“He means so much to all of us around here, and I wanted this to be a very special day for him,” Walker said. “Because of my message on Facebook, James has received more than 75 cards wishing him a happy birthday.”
The cards were constantly coming in, and he received several during the party. One of them was from Walker’s friend in Arkansas who is a nurse. As they were reading the card together, Walker jokingly asked James if he needed a nurse. Sitting in his chair with a rather mischievous look on his face, James declined to answer the question. And the room erupted in laughter.
He then responded, “If she’s a nurse, they ought to send her back to school and teach her how to write.”
For someone his age, James is considered to be in excellent health and is sharp as a tack. When asked how he has maintained is quick witted nature, he replied, “You have to act like a nut or you won’t make it. And you have to develop a mind that’s happy. Those two things will always carry you through the deepest things in life, such as water.”
In addition to being an amateur comedian, James said he took excellent care of himself. Until February of this year, he walked two miles a day, lived at home alone, played tennis, fished and piloted airplanes.
“I was always a real athletic person,” he said. “My poor wife didn’t have an athletic bone in her body, but she sure was beautiful and she was good at being that.”
Someone asked James what would his wife say to him if she was at the party.
“She would tell me that I’m a nut,” he said, laughing. “And that I’m pretty good at making love.”
James was born before the Titanic sank and is the last remaining son of eight children. His family migrated from Czechoslovakia in the early 1900s. He is now considered the patriarch of the Kasal family.
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