Irene Bouffard Lambert celebrated 100 years on Saturday with a roomful of relatives at the Bounti-Fare. Left, a screen displayed photographs taken during Lambert's long life.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Five generations were on hand Saturday to celebrate Irene Lambert's centennial anniversary, including the youngest great-grandchild, 11-day-old Sebastian Smith.
Decked out in her beloved "bling" and sporting a tiara and corsage, Lambert greeted scores of relatives who turned out for her 100th birthday gala at the Bounti-Fare in Adams.
The event was supposed to a surprise, said Lambert, her accent betraying her French-Canadian roots, but she had a clue something was going on.
"It was at first but I was at [her granddaughter] Kelley's and the little ones said, 'When are we going to the party,'" she laughed.
Lambert and her late husband of 50 years, Louis G. Lambert, had four children, who in turn had 14 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
She recalled how she had grown up on farms in Canada and Vermont.
"I worked with my father on the farm," she said. "I went up in the mountains with him and brought down the logs. ... I cleaned the cows, I cleaned the horses."
The horses her father raised, Clydesdales, weren't easy to push around, she said. "That's why I'm strong."
Born April 15, 1914, in Saint-Norbert, Quebec, Lambert was one of six girls and three boys born to Archille and Aurora LeBlanc Bouffard. Her sister Alice Bouffard Mitchell is still living in Florida.
Her daughter Clarise Lambert Vanderburgh said her mother left school in the fifth grade to work on the farm and help raise her siblings when her mother died. When her father moved back to Canada when she was 18, she stayed to work in the textile mills with her aunt.
When the Vermont mills closed, Lambert and her husband, whom she married in 1935, moved to North Adams, working in the cotton mills in the area until they, too, closed.
"Then I went to the rubber mill in Williamstown (the former Cornish Wire). I worked there for, oh, 20 years," she said. Then she worked cleaning six houses and mowing their lawns.
She became an American citizen and, at age 41, learned to drive.
Vanderburgh described her mother as "a hard-working woman all her life."
Her daughter Carole Lambert Superneau recalled how her mother used to come to her house and mow the lawn — slipping into a pair of sneakers but still dressed up in jewelry and nylons.
"I still do what I can," Lambert said. Her daughters said she still cleans, loves to go shopping and, up until a few years ago, was shoveling snow for herself and her neighbors.
"At 100, to see her doing what she does, she's just amazing," said Superneau.
Her other children are Marielle Lambert Kordana and George Lambert.
On Saturday, Lambert certainly didn't seem ready to slow down but admitted the long years were a bit blurred.
"It went by so fast," she said of the century past. "I can't remember everything."