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Fred Reeser’s 60th birthday party was a reason to celebrate! As the cars drove past honking and dropping off gifts for Fred, Marie Hoover was filled with joy that even during the coronavirus, his birthday could still be special.

Over twenty years ago, Marie was serving on the Care Team at Groffdale Mennonite Church. Fred Reeser’s family was going through a difficult time and Marie was one of the individuals who volunteered to pray with them.

“As a nurse, I listened to Fred’s mother and I recognized the symptoms of his health issue and recommended a specialist to his family. I felt a strong pull, like nothing else before, and I felt it was God telling me that I needed to be involved in Fred’s life,” Marie shared.

Marie continued to be involved with the Reeser family along with several other members of Groffdale Mennonite Church. When Fred’s father was no longer able to drive, Marie and others would take the Reesers to the grocery store, doctor’s appointments, and more.

The family suffered the loss of Fred’s grandparents, who lived next door. Then Fred’s sister passed away, soon followed by his father. At that point, Fred and his mom were the only ones left to take care of the large house and property they owned in Leola.

“I will never forget taking Betty, Fred’s mother, home after running an errand,” Marie shared. “It was the first time she sat in the car, an overwhelmed look on her face, and she finally said, ‘I just can’t manage the house anymore.’ I told her, ‘Let’s go check out Welsh Mountain Home’.”

So, three years ago, Fred and Betty moved into Welsh Mountain Home. Soon after, Betty passed away, and Marie, now called “Aunt Marie” by Fred, became his advocate.

Even with all the hardship in his life, including a kidney transplant eight years ago, Fred continues to brighten the day of everyone who comes into contact with him. It’s evident after meeting him that he chooses an attitude of joy.

“I like the activities here. I like that I’m close to where I grew up, I’ve made friends, and my aunt (Marie) can still visit me,” Fred shared.

Fred is friendly and kind and has made many friends at Welsh Mountain Home. He enjoys conversation. He has books about the presidents of the United States and can tell you each of them in chronological order as well as facts about their lives and relationships. He loves cheering on the Philadelphia Eagles and the Phillies and can rattle off their statistics like a professional.

“My favorite thing about Fred is his sense of humor. He makes me laugh. I feel refreshed after seeing him because it’s such a blessing,” Marie said.

On August 19, Fred turned 60!

Marie wanted to do something special for his birthday. She coordinated with Mona Frey, Director of Welsh Mountain Home, to hold a 60th birthday drive-by party for Fred. The day of his birthday, Fred sat on his porch while his loved ones and friends drove by with decorations, gifts, and balloons and honked their horns for him.

“My birthday was cool. I just finished opening my presents, so it was still good! One of my balloons says, ’60,’ but no one says I look 60,” Fred says with a smile.

Even after all the challenges Fred has overcome, he has stayed resilient and positive. His relationship with Marie is clearly a blessing to both of them, and it was fitting that they celebrated his 60th birthday together.

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