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'Tamer Lee Owens Day' proclaimed on 108-year-old's birthday

By BY JJ VELASQUEZ - JVELASQUEZ@VICAD.COM
Feb. 13, 2010 at 8:04 p.m.
Updated Feb. 13, 2010 at 8:14 p.m.

Tamer Lee Owens, left, poses for pictures with friends and relatives Saturday as she celebrates her 108th birthday early. Owens, born in Jackson County in 1902, may be the oldest person living in Victoria County.

What happened in 1902?

-- The first college football bowl game, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., was played.

-- Theodore Roosevelt was president.

-- Cuba gained independence from the United States.

-- President Roosevelt became the first American president to ride in an automobile

Every morning, Tamer Lee Owens drinks a concoction comprised of garlic, vinegar and honey.

It's one of the keys to her longevity as its ingredients help cleanse the body, said the 107-year-old's niece, Betty Hicks. Owens turns 108 on Monday and will get her own day, proclaimed by Mayor Will Armstrong.

Owens was born in a time when automobiles were not in popular use, women could not vote and minorities were segregated in much of America.

Though, she deflects the awes.

"I haven't seen any more than what you have seen," she said.

Owens, born Feb. 15, 1902 in Jackson County, is a vital and lucid woman with a good sense of humor, said many of the people who attended her birthday party Saturday.

Hicks said they expected more than 100 friends and family members to show up to Owens' Southeast Victoria home, where she has lived in since World War II.

Owens takes regular walks during mild to warm weather.

Hicks has always remembered her staying active. And she remembers even as a child watching her aunt drinking her warm elixir.

But Owens never suspected she would live as long as she has.

"I didn't know I was going to live until 108, but I'm glad I did," Owens said in a wispy voice.

Owens moved to Victoria from Edna in the late 1930s. During World War II, she owned a restaurant called Wheeler's Cafe.

She always had a passion for cooking, Hicks said. She added that Owens makes the best peach cobbler.

Once Hicks propositioned her aunt to move in with her, but Owens politely declined.

"She said we would get in her way," Hicks said.

Owens was so excited for her birthday party and an awaiting surprise, Hicks said, that she could hardly sleep the night before. She looks forward to her birthday party every year.

This year she had a surprise visit from the mayor, who proclaimed Monday "Tamer Lee Owens Day."

"She was full of smiles and didn't know what to think," Hicks said, describing Owens's reaction. "She was thoroughly surprised."

At 108, Owens may be the oldest living person in Victoria County.

Attempts to confirm this last week were not successful.

"She's our oldest aunt," Hicks said. "And she has the most sense of any of us."

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