Greeks sponsor prom for elderly

Vadim Lavrusik

Mayme and Clarence Vail have been married for 82 “long, happy” years.

“I think we’re the longest-married couple alive in the U.S.,” Mayme Vail said.

where to go

Greek Awards
What: Coach Tim Brewster will address the greek community about the future outlook for the University football program.
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: 175 Willey Hall

They have six children, 39 grandchildren and 101 great-grandchildren.

Mayme Vail, who will turn 99 this month, said “knowing when to shut up” has been the key to their successful marriage.

“We met at grade school and all the girls were crazy about him,” she said. “How he picked me, I don’t know.”

Mayme Vail and her husband are two of the many residents at Comforts of Home, a new assisted living and memory care facility in White Bear Lake. Fraternity and sorority members held a Senior Prom at the home Saturday as part of the annual Greek Weekend.

Other events included an All-Greek Formal on Saturday night and a lunch for alumni Sunday. The weekend’s events will end tonight with Greek Awards, celebrating achievements of specific chapters and individuals.

At Saturday’s events, some attendees danced on an open floor while others mingled with the elderly and played board games.

Friends and family of the home’s residents were invited as well, and more than 70 people attended.

This year was the first time the Senior Prom was part of the annual tradition, said Alex Harkness, vice president of public relations for the Panhellenic Council.

Residents, who include the elderly and Alzheimer’s patients, spent the morning getting their hair and makeup done for the prom, Harkness said. Some even dressed in formal attire.

She said the hope is to make the Senior Prom an annual event.

Mary Barnes, life enrichment coordinator at Comforts of Home, said the residents were really excited about the prom.

“They’ll be talking about it for weeks,” Barnes said.

Some were overwhelmed with all the activities and went back to their rooms, she said. “As you get older, quiet is good.”

Most of the students said they enjoyed their time with the elderly.

Mandi Crotty, a communications junior and Gamma Phi Beta member, said she liked dancing with the elderly men.

“They’re a little shy,” she said. “They were afraid they weren’t going to be good enough dancers.”

Besides the dancing, Crotty said she enjoyed coming together with the whole greek community because it allowed her to get to know people from other chapters.

Greg Cox, a Phi Kappa Psi pledge who will be initiated this month, also said that it was helpful for him to meet members of other chapters.

But he enjoyed getting to know the elderly residents as well, he said.

And when he gets older, he said he hopes he can have as much as some of the elderly he met.

Despite the gap in ages, Mayme Vail said the biggest change she has seen over the years is the way people dress.

“Some dresses girls wear nowadays make me cringe,” she said. “How can they wear something like that?”

After 99 years, there is very little she said she regrets.

But looking back, she wishes she visited old people like herself when she was younger.

“Why wasn’t I there to help them, like people help me now?” she said.

“Knowing how much I appreciate it now, I wish I would have gone to homes like this to at least visit.”