San Jose woman greets her 105th birthday with a smile


We could all afford to take some advice from Betty Ann Chandler, who celebrated her 105th birthday Wednesday with a small party attended by friends, family and neighbors in front of her home in San Jose’s Naglee Park neighborhood.

“Keep moving, keep your friends and have a big family,” she said. “I was born smiling. And I love to smile. Give a smile and you get a smile, I say.”

There were lots of smiles for her Wednesday. Helped by her daughter, Athene Mantle, she greeted a stream of well-wishers who brought cards and flowers, shared cupcakes and marveled over newspaper clippings of her from decades past when she danced as a young woman at venues like the California Theater and the Hotel Sainte Claire. Even Mayor Sam Liccardo stopped by with birthday wishes and a commendation.

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 17: Betty Ann Chandler celebrates her 105th birthday with San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo during an outdoor party at her Naglee Park home in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 

Chandler’s life has spanned the modern history of San Jose. She was born in 1917 upstairs at a house on South 14th Street built some 13 years earlier by her grandfather, just a few blocks away from the house she’s lived in for decades now. She graduated from San Jose State in 1939 with a teaching credential, and she taught school until she and her husband, Elliott — whom she met while they were both at San Jose State — began raising a family.

The couple took over Desimone’s Cycle and Toy Shop, which her family had started in the late 1800s, and helped grow it into a major retail chain from the 1960s until the store on South Second street closed about 1990 as the light rail was coming in.

Along the way, she became involved with the San Jose Woman’s Club, volunteered at San Jose High School and supported a lot of performing arts groups in the city, from Opera San Jose and Lyric Theatre to San Jose Stage and City Lights. She even went to her first Golden State Warriors game in 2017.

Chandler’s motto is “I am healthy, vital and strong, and I radiate dynamic energy.” We should all be so lucky to radiate the dynamic energy that Betty Ann Chandler does.

RETURN TO THE REDWOOD GROVE: Events are continuing to return after COVID-imposed breaks, and that includes the Ladies of Charity barbecue fundraiser on Aug. 27 at Saratoga Springs. The event, which raises scholarship money for students at Sacred Heart Nativity School and Our Lady of Grade School, includes music, line dancing, hosted beverages and homemade appetizers in the Redwood Grove. Of course, the centerpiece is the barbecue buffet dinner cooked up by the staff at Saratoga Springs, which continues to be run by the Giannini family and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Tickets to the 5 p.m. fundraiser are $125 a piece and can be purchased at www.ladiesofcharitysanjose.org.

LOOKING FOR LIONS: The Class of 1962 from Lincoln High School in San Jose is getting together for its 60th reunion on Sept. 24 at the Three Flames restaurant on Meridian Avenue. The class has had reunions every five years since graduating, and 15 years ago, some started getting together every year in between the big reunions.

Marsha Smothers Hamner, who met her husband, Jim Hamner, at Lincoln, said they’ve got one classmate traveling from Australia for this year’s daytime reunion. Anyone who needs more information can contact her at [email protected]



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