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By Costa Pappas

The San Clemente Villas by the Sea, a senior living facility, celebrated the 101st birthday of former U.S. Naval Commander Evelyn Niehaus Sooy on May 14.

In addition to being a commander in the Navy, Sooy was an engineer in Texas and a real estate agent in California. Her family celebrated her remarkable life with music, presents, cake and a huge birthday parade.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, adjustments were made to protect the living facility. Sooy was socially distant for the finale of the parade. Along with this, masks were mandatory, visitors were not allowed inside the community unless they were essential health care workers, and room service was used rather than the restaurant dining.

“We are all doing our best to adjust to this new way of visiting,” said Villas executive director Laura Kephart.

She added that Sooy “loved the party and parade—even with masks.”

Throughout this time, Villas residents and staff are striving to maintain their sense of humor, continue to connect to the rest of the San Clemente community and hope for a brighter future, Kephart said.

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