Emma “Babe” Fay

Emma “Babe” Fay blows out the candles on her birthday cake, celebrating 104 trips around the sun. In her younger days, Fay was an avid dancer and basketball player. Her picture is still in the trophy case at BFA St. Albans. She started and coached the fifth-eighth grade girls team at Christ the King school.

From trolley cars to buses, Emma Fay has seen a lot in 104 years.

Fay, or Babe to her family and friends, celebrated her birthday on Friday, Jan. 17.

A crowd of 50-60 people showed up to commemorate the occasion at the Pines Senior Living Center off Dorset Street, and another 15 family members came to celebrate her official birthday on Saturday.

“It’s been a really good life,” Fay said.

And what a life it’s been!

The centenarian – who, by the way, looks decades younger than she is – was born in Vergennes but moved to St. Albans as a baby for her father’s job on the railroad. She graduated from high school at BFA St. Albans.

Fay was an avid basketball player and dancer when she was younger. In fact, she met her future husband, Henry W. Fay, at dances.

“Oh, she loved to dance,” said her daughter Cheryl Demers. “She had an older brother and sister and they dragged her to dances she may have been too young to go to.”

They’d go to dances in both Franklin and Chittenden counties.

Babe dated Henry Fay for five years and worked at the 5&10 store in St. Albans. They were married in 1941 and she moved to Burlington where the couple lived on Howard Street.

In Burlington, Babe Fay worked at Reynolds and Abernethy’s, department stores on Church Street.

In 1942, Henry Fay went into the army – and stormed the beaches at Normandy on D-Day, said Demers.

Demers was born in 1949 and her brother Jim Fay in 1955. They went to Christ the King School, where their mother used her basketball skills to start the fifth through eighth grade girls basketball team.

Babe Fay knew basketball.

“She was a star. Her picture’s still in the trophy case at the high school in St. Albans,” said Demers.

While her children were in school, Babe Fay was active in PTA, was a 4H leader, was active with the Daughters of Isabella (a charitable Catholic women’s organization) and was on the board of the UVM extension service.

And she still loved to dance. Demers said she could remember her parents’ collection of 78s with music of lots of big bands.

Some nights her parents would put on a record and dance at home.

When the children were in high school, Babe Fay went back to work at Abernethy’s. She became the main floor buyer and worked there until around age 65, said Demers.

Henry Fay passed away in 1982, but Babe lived in their house on Howard Street until 1998, when she moved into the Pines.

Demers said her mother still cooks. When the community has a potluck, “everybody gets a chuckle” because her mom still makes a side dish that she brings.

Babe Fay loves to play Bingo and her daughter is amazed at her mom’s skills. “When we take her to Bingo, she’ll be playing 18 cards and she’ll be saying, ‘You missed one.’ She’ll be keeping up with hers and ours.”

Demers said, “She loves sports to this day. She watches all the sports on TV. It doesn’t matter if it’s football, hockey, baseball. She loves following the Red Sox baseball and the UVM girls basketball. If I see the UVM girls basketball is on the TV, I’ll call her and most of the time she’s already got in on.”

Babe Faye says it’s been an amazing life that has stretched “from trolley cars to buses” and a life filled with “good health and happiness.”

When asked what was the best day of her life, Babe Faye said she’d had so many good days that she couldn’t say which was best.

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