Vinnette Fowler at birthday with caregivers

Vinnette Fowler smiles at the outpouring of love for her 104th birthday, organized during a State of Emergency by caregivers Sabie Carey, left, and Margueritte Bailey.

A GoFundMe account has been created for a 104-year-old woman in need of financial help so she can stay in the South Bethany home she’s occupied since the 1980s.

The family of Vinnette Fowler is trying to raise $16,000 to help pay expenses, including around-the-clock care not covered by her insurance. At mid-week, $5,738 of the $16,000 goal had been raised.

Fowler was surprised with a drive-by birthday celebration in May and has been featured in the Coastal Point twice — including in 2018, when she met her youngest great-great grandchild for the first time, bringing together four generations of women in her family in her home.

“Knowing her has enriched my life — to know somebody like this and to see she has lived a long time because she’s basically a happy person. She’s had a great life and a wonderful husband she was so in love with the whole time. All those things help you live a long life. I feel honored to have known her, to know anybody her age,” Sabie Carey, one her caretakers, told the Coastal Point this week.

Fowler, she said, enjoys sitting by a window in her home, watching neighbors walk by or jog and pleasantly calling to them, “Have a great day” or “Good morning.”

“She walks with a walker, and we have to hold onto her. She is not steady by herself. The money the family is trying to raise could help us go a couple more months at least, but if she knew about it she would be very upset. She would never want to take a handout,” Carey said.

“She is spunky. She loves to talk. She talked about her husband just today. She said, ‘He was the best one.’ I said, ‘How many were there?’ and she laughed and laughed,” Carey said, laughing as well.

Now legally blind, and using a single hearing aid because she dropped the other one in her soup and it accidentally ended up in the garbage disposal, Fowler listens to books on tape that are delivered by the Blind Association.

“We try to choose something nice for her to listen to, like a love story. We talk about the birds and we look at them outside,” Carey said.

In her younger years, Fowler enjoyed playing bridge and golfing and worked for her church.

Fowler, a Washington, D.C., native who lived in Maryland before relocating to Delaware with her husband, Burt, who died in 1992, has outlived three sons, said her daughter and only surviving child, Frances FitzGerald of California. But there are dozens of grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

In the GoFundMe campaign description, Fowler’s family members describe her as “a wonderful woman [who] has been the cornerstone of our family and has remained as such into her 104th year of touching people’s lives.”

“She assisted with reading to young children in her local church until she was 93 years old. This generous lady is now in the need of help from the generosity of those that love her and those who can assist in helping,” it states.

FitzGerald said her mother — born in 1916, before women were permitted to vote — survived the 1918 flu epidemic and diphtheria. Her caregivers are “beyond wonderful” and keep her safe and happy at home, she said.

So giving was she, her daughter said, that once, when her family of six was living in a two-bedroom apartment, Fowler and her husband took in a family of six that was displaced after a house fire.

“She has a zest for life that was needed to move from Maryland, where they lived in a three-story home, to a small summer cottage in South Bethany,” FitzGerald said, explaining that the move was necessary after a company her father worked for didn’t uphold a promise to pay him as a consultant.

“Even so, she made that into a vibrant home,” Fitzgerald said.

“And it was always open to all.”

For more information on the GoFundMe effort for Fowler or to donate, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-save-104-year-old-matriarch039s-home-and-care.

Staff Reporter

Veteran news reporter Susan Canfora has written for many newspapers and held positions ranging from managing editor to her favorite, news reporter. She joined the Coastal Point in June 2019. She teaches college writing, tutors and professionally edits.