LIBERTY – Ruth Siddons Grant celebrated her 111th birthday Tuesday with three birthday cakes.
That was more than enough to satisfy dozens of fellow residents at the Sullivan County Adult Care Center on Sunset Lake Road who stopped by to sing “Happy Birthday” to her.
Her birthday guests also included a small string of officials or their stand-ins, including a representative from state Sen. Jen Metzger’s office who read a proclamation honoring Ruth.
She is reputedly Sullivan County’s oldest citizen.
One of those visitors, Meagan Galligan, the acting Sullivan County District Attorney, remarked how unusual it felt to be addressing the guest of honor as Ruth.
“When I was a kid in Liberty schools, you were always Mrs. Grant,” Galligan said.
Grant and her late husband, Howard, were both long-time teachers in Sullivan County, and Ruth also taught school on Long Island for a time.
After her teaching days were over, Ruth worked as a secretary in the Liberty superintendent of schools office. She retired in 1970.
She has lived at the county care center since 2009.
Grant was born in 1909 in Morrisonville, a hamlet near the upstate city of Plattsburgh.
Her parents, Frank and Susan Siddons, first owned a hotel, but later sold that and built a grocery store that they ran for many years. Ruth and her sister worked in the store after school.
When she wasn’t working in school or helping her parents at the store, Ruth was playing tennis.
She was good enough at tennis that her parents eventually built a tennis court behind the grocery store. There, Ruth played against, and often defeated, the local boys.
She and Howard raised two sons, Richard and Robert.
Asked about her reaction to seeing the crowd gathering at the center on Tuesday, Ruth replied, “I said, what are they all here for?” When she learned it was for her party, she admitted, “That made me feel a little important.”
But despite all her experience gained over the course of 111 years, Ruth claimed not to have an answer to the inevitable question every person with an age three digits long is asked on such occasions.
“I don’t have the slightest idea how I lived this long,” she said. “I just enjoyed life.”