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Westporter Finds 100 Reasons To Celebrate

WESTPORT, Conn. — William Thomas of Westport celebrated his 100th birthday on Friday with a party attended by 30 family members and friends, a card from President Obama, a slice of pizza and champagne. And, of course, cake.

The Bridgeport-born centenarian, who worked as an optician and at one time piloted airplanes and was a flight instructor, views his long life as a gift.

“I believe in God, and I’m blessed by the Lord,” he said. “God helped me all the way.”

Thomas, who lives with his niece Simone at 5 Canal St. in Westport, was also a professional musician. He said the old Ritz Ballroom in Black Rock was his favorite place to play for dances. Thomas was accomplished on three instruments: the saxophone, clarinet and flute.

Thomas spoke lovingly of his late wife of many years, Bessie. “She was a beautiful girl,” he said. Among those celebrating with him was his brother-in-law of 60 years, Bessie’s brother William Pitt.

The birthday party included singing, one of Thomas’ favorite pastimes. He still watches the “Lawrence Welk Show.” “I know all the songs and enjoy singing along with them,” he said.

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