Happy 104th Birthday to Helen Hornsey, Fitchburg’s Oldest Resident

December 5, 2018 GMT

FITCHBURG -- Helen Hornsey has traveled the world, studied singing at the prestigious Julliard School, and has now earned the title of the city’s oldest resident.

She celebrated her 104th birthday Tuesday afternoon at the Gables Assisted Living Care surrounded by family and friends.

“It feels good to have a birthday and be as old as I am,” Hornsey said with a smile. She had just eaten a piece of her birthday cake and had the entire room of people sing to her.

Born and raised in Brookline, Hornsey moved to Fitchburg about a decade ago to live at the Gables. She also lived in Germany and around New York City.


Mayor Stephen DiNatale gave her a bouquet of flowers and presented her with a citation from the city.

“In recognition of the joyful celebration of your 104 birthday, the entire citizenry extends its very best wishes on this very memorable occasion and expresses the hope of continued good fortune for the next 100 years,” he said while presenting the honor.

She smiled when she received the citation and said, “How nice!”

The best gift Hornsey ever received for her birthday was a 3-carat diamond ring from her late husband, John, who was a lieutenant colonel in the Army, she said. They were married for about 30 years.

On Tuesday, Hornsey sat in a wheelchair in front of three golden balloons that read “104.” Friends and family came up to her to offer their best wishes, take pictures together, and give hugs.

“She’s very outgoing and social,” said Johanna Alcorn, whose husband is Hornsey’s nephew.

Hornsey didn’t have children of her own, but still doted on family members, including Robert Alcorn and Erika Lahti, Johanna’s children, who also came to the birthday party.


Robert called Hornsey generous and said she bought him his first car and helped him buy his first house.

“She’s always been there for us and the family,” he said.

Hornsey wanted to attend Wellesley College but didn’t end up going. She later told her husband that she should have gone and that it would’ve been cheaper.

He said in response: “Didn’t your traveling around the world get you a college education?” she recalled Tuesday.

Later in life she attended Julliard.

Hornsey said she had multiple jobs over the years, including as a secretary to several generals in Germany.

Hornsey’s advice for a good life was to eat a variety of foods and a lot of vegetables.

“Don’t smoke and get upset or mad,” she added. “I don’t think that’s good.”

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