South Bend woman receives Key to the City for 100th birthday

NOW: South Bend woman receives Key to the City for 100th birthday


SOUTH BEND, Ind. —- On Sunday, a South Bend woman celebrated her 100th birthday and received a key to the City of the South Bend. 

Mella ‘Mother’ Townsend said she has lived in South Bend for 58 years. On Sunday, she turned 100-years-old and said she felt ‘just fine.’

“It was a lovely birthday,” she said. “Everybody was so nice and kind.”

Townsend’s family and friends threw her a birthday party at the Charles Martin Center. They are food, listened to live performances, and told stories of their ‘Auntie Mella.’ 

“Hi, I just want to say happy birthday to my Aunt Mella it’s her 100th birthday and we’re all celebrating here,” said one of Townsend’s great nieces. 

Family members in South Bend and all the way from Georgia call the centenarian ‘Mother Theresa.’ Townsend’s niece, Laura Townsend, said for her 100th year the family had to do something for the woman who has been their rock. 

“She deserves every bit of it and a little bit more,” said Townsend’s niece.

Her niece said Townsend ran a liquor store in the city for about 30 years. She said her aunt helped out her family financially when the Studebaker plant shut down. 

After living in South Bend for nearly 60 years, her niece Robin Townsend said she applied for her aunt to receive the key to the city. On Sunday, Cherri Peate, with the Mayor’s Office, awarded her with the key to the city. 

Mr. Lester Townsend, who is 111-years-old also was awarded a key to the city. 

Along with the key is a plaque which reads the following: 

“Your longevity is a gift to our community and a joy to all who love you. Pete Buttigieg”

As Townsend moves into her second century of life she said her advice to the younger generation is to love one another. 

“Love everybody cause that’s what we don’t have love,” she said. 

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