BLACK DIAMOND, Alta. — Erma Brown marked her 108th birthday on July 17 at the Rising Sun Long Term Care Centre. Born in 1914, shortly before the start of the First World War, she moved to Black Diamond as a teenager, settling there with her family in 1929.
“I’m very pleased with my life, and I’m very pleased with this place that I’m in right now,” Brown said.
She had three brothers, and her own children are now in their 80s or getting close to that mark.
“I’ve got a wonderful family, absolutely perfect family,” she said.
Gwenn Smith has been a friend of Brown’s for many decades.
“She’s got a terrific history, and she put a lot into this community,” Smith said
As secretary-treasurer for Black Diamond, Brown was awarded a plaque commemorating 20 years of service during the years 1954-1974, and she received long-time service awards from Glen Mead Park and the Griffiths Memorial Centre.
Brown was involved with numerous initiatives, including helping to bring the library to town, said Black Diamond CAO Sharlene Brown.
“She also was instrumental in bringing the Westwinds Communities senior’s lodge,” CAO Brown said, and “she also helped lobby, bringing the hospital here.”
She was also involved in bringing the black diamond landmark to town, and it still stands in front of the Town’s municipal building, said CAO Brown.
In 2017, the community chose to name Erma Joy Brown Park in her honour.
“She was very instrumental here.”
Although Erma Brown struggles with hearing and eyesight, and is often tired, she is clever and alert.
“My brain is still working properly,” Brown said. "I’m the character I’ve always been.”
Smith said her friend lived at home up until the age of 107.
“I was at her 107th birthday, which was at her house last July,” Smith said.
Brown said having good friends around gives her strength.
“This beloved friend of mine, I couldn’t have anyone better,” Brown said.
She loves the hard-working cowboy spirit of the West and said Western people know what needs to be done.
“We get busy, and we do it,” she said.
Plans for the celebration included a cake with family members on Saturday and a performance by a classical violinist on Sunday.