The Golf Knolls Women’s Club can always count on one thing at their monthly luncheon meetings: a pan of warm brownies made by long-time member Maisie Koss.
She did not disappoint Monday, though it was her turn to be on the receiving end. The large gathering of women, all residents of the Murrieta Hot Springs senior living community, dimmed the lights and wheeled out a candlelit cake in honor of Koss’ 100th birthday.
The women celebrate members' birthdays regularly, but said having a 100th to celebrate was a rarity.
“We have seven members over 90, but for one to turn 100 is rare,” said Jeanne Nichols, program chairman for Golf Knolls Women's Club.
In addition to bringing her signature brownies, Koss made a fitting donation of $100 to the club.
Koss, who turned 100 years old on Jan. 5, has lived in Murrieta since 1976. She said she first came to the U.S. from England aboard the Queen Mary in 1939.
“It was three months before World War II broke out,” Koss said.
The Queen Mary was converted to a warship until the mid-1940s, when it resumed commercial service. The retired ship is now docked permanently in Long Beach.
Koss and her husband, Irving, settled in San Francisco for 32 years before moving to Palm Springs in the 1970s. Six years later, they moved to Murrieta. Her husband died in 2004 at age 98. The two were married 71 years and had one son who married and gave them a daughter-in-law and two grandsons, she said.
Koss, who was a hairdresser, said she still has a sister living in England who is about to turn 98.
In addition to receiving a letter recently from President Barack Obama, as is customary for those who reach 100 years of age, Koss was also greeted with a warm handshake from a special guest at Monday’s meeting: Murrieta Mayor Rick Gibbs.
Though the mayor was on hand to give a community update—he touched on a recent uptick in identity thefts in the senior neighborhood, the deactivation of nearby red-light cameras, the improving health care in the Valley and the city’s emergency medical response times—this was no business as usual.
Gibbs said the highlight of the luncheon was being able to congratulate Koss on becoming a centenarian.
“Since she was born in 1913, she has seen women get the right to vote, world wars, vaccines created...There were no commercial airplanes back then, and most people didn’t have phone service or electricity,” Gibbs said. “Maisie is simply amazing to turn 100 and be in reasonably good health.”