Luthard Eid has had plenty of birthdays, but his 101st on Tuesday was truly a great one, he said.
Dozens of neighborhood children came bearing silver and blue balloons and homemade cards to sing "Happy Birthday" to Eid, who has been living in Port Huron for just over a year.
"I've never had such a wonderful birthday before," said Eid. "I'll never forget it."
Firmly grasping his cane, Eid came outside with a couple layers of jackets on to listen to the children sing in the driveway and give them candy. Although the plan was for the kids to leave after that, Eid invited them inside to look at the fish tanks in his basement and to sing to them himself.
After, the children gathered around him to listen to him play the harmonica and speak about his life experiences. When Eid told the kids that he went to school for 22 years, a few jaws dropped.
"Go to school and do the best you can," he told them. "Always do the right thing."
Mary Williams, Eid's neighbor, said the idea came about as they were discussing community service for the NAACP. One of the neighborhood kids mentioned that Eid was turning 101, so they decided to celebrate it.
The celebration went well and was eye-opening for the kids, many of whom saw their first typewriter in his home and learned new things, Williams said.
"As you start getting old, it's so important the community comes together and says you're not alone," Williams said. "The knowledge he shared with those kids they won't find in a book."
Mconilly Price, 8, said he liked the birthday party.
"He told us a lot about his life," he said. "My favorite part was when he told us about the colleges."
Eid lives with his daughter and son-in-law Marion and Brian Dietz.
Marion Dietz said they love the neighborhood and Port Huron.
"It's really nice," she said.
Brian Dietz said Eid received a letter from the mayor and is also expecting correspondence from Gov. Rick Snyder.
"He's been getting cards from lots of people," he said.
Eid is a remarkable and very positive character, Brian Dietz said.
"He's tough as nails," he said.
Eid, who takes laps around his house every day, said his life advice would be to stay active.
"I can hardly think of a sport I didn't play," he said.
His daughter Kathy Burnell said he even tried shoveling snow off the porch this past winter.
Though Eid is a recent transplant to Port Huron from Minnesota after his wife passed away, his life has been illustrious. He was a reverend who lived in Hong Kong for nearly 30 years, where he taught in the native language. He has traveled to multiple countries and states, his children said.
This week, five out of his six children gathered in Port Huron to celebrate his 101st birthday.
His son, Daniel Eid, said his father's memory is still very strong and called the community gathering "fantastic."
Luthard Eid was actually born on Feb. 29, 1916 — a leap day.
"He's only had 25 birthdays," Daniel Eid said. "He says he gets an extra day, so it's really 101 years plus 25."
Williams, whose birthday also was Tuesday, said she is happy to have helped facilitate the connection between Luthard Eid and the neighborhood kids.
"We just bridged 90-plus years," she said. "Kids are not always bad and old people are not always bad. This has been one of my best birthdays."
Contact Anya Rath at (810) 989-6276 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @anya_rath.