With lights flashing and sirens wailing, a flock of Arlington police and fire vehicles on Feb. 7 led a parade of well-wishers down South Kenmore Street, wishing local resident Mary Lockett a joyous 104th birthday.
And for the past 82 of those years, she has called the Green Valley community home.
A self-sufficient woman who rises at 5 a.m. and is ready to retire for the evening at the conclusion of “Wheel of Fortune” at 7:30 p.m., Mrs. Lockett still prepares her own meals, washes and irons her own clothes and keeps her house tidy.
Her mind is unclouded, easily and vividly recalling details of the past, family and friends say, and her keen wit is undiminished by the passage of time.
She was born on Feb. 7, 1917, to Edward and Annie Sheppard of nearby Baileys Crossroads, the sixth and last surviving of eight siblings. (1917 also was the birth year of the likes of John F. Kennedy, Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Desi Arnaz, and Mrs. Lockett shares her Feb. 7 birthday with another notable Arlingtonian, Katie Couric.)
Her marriage to the late Edward Lockett was blessed by four children, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
A domestic worker for many years, Mrs. Lockett worked at the Pentagon in the 1940s. She continued driving her blue 1976 Chevrolet station wagon until she was 90, never once picking up a traffic ticket.
The secret to her longevity? Perhaps some of it is that her life has been grounded in faith.
Mrs. Lockett has been a member of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Alexandria for the past 80 years, where she served as an usher for a half-century, and recently was bestowed with the title of “deaconess emeritus.”
Healthy living is also a key consideration. Four words of wisdom she offers when asked are: “Eat your blueberries daily.”
Because of public-health conditions, Mrs. Lockett viewed the drive-by parade of honking, headlight-flashing cars from her front porch as Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” played in the background. The public event was followed by a smaller celebration with family in her home.