When May Phares reached her 100th birthday this month she said, “I don’t fret about my age!”
“I don’t feel very old, and I can eat whatever I want to eat.
“It is hard for me to believe I am 100, because I never meet people who are 100.”
What helped her to stay so healthy so long?
She answered, “Not drinking or smoking, and working steady most all my life!”
Her husband died suddenly of a heart attack in 1934.
“We had a great life together,” she said.
She has lived the second half of her life without re-marrying, but made huge numbers of friends across those hundred years.
Born in a Kentucky log cabin in l910, the highlight of her life was moving to the Valley in 1918, when her father went to work for John Shary, a famous Valley land developer. Her husband, Edgar Phares, owned and operated the Grill Restaurant on Main Street in McAllen, after serving in World War I.
“I remember some funny mistakes we made. A long time ago, when they were selling South Padre Island lots for just a few dollars, we laughed and said it was not worth it!”
She worked at her husband’s restaurant for a few years and later worked at the McAllen and Mission hospitals.
Many years later, when she was 93, she climbed the Old South Padre Island lighthouse to the amazement of a large crowd of visitors, who couldn’t believe what they were seeing as they all climbed slowly together.
“I couldn’t climb it again, because I had a stroke,” she now admits.
She also enjoyed traveling. She took a freighter from New Orleans to Europe in 1953 and later returned to Europe twice.
In her long, active life she has done and seen many things. She saw the Hindenburg dirigible from Germany fly over Texas, witnessed the first uncapped oil well in Sullivan City, was involved in the Sea Turtle Inc. program on South Padre Island and sewed clothes for the turtle shows for many years.
Three parties were held when she reached 100. The largest was at Our Savior Lutheran Church McAllen, a second by friends, and a special one for her family.
Her daughter, Eddiemae Wagg, a McAllen High School graduate, is her only child and has been visiting and staying with her in recent years. Mrs. Phares’s two grandchildren are Robert and David Wagg, and she has two great-grandchildren, Emily Mae Wagg and Dylan Phares Wagg.
Maye Phares has spent 77 of her 100 years in McAllen. She has always been proud that her husband served as a city commissioner of streets and parks in the 1930s. She is well loved by all who know her and still enjoys frequent visitors, her daughter said.