MethuenLife was asked to publish this public thank-you, following the party. Tuffic and his family would like to thank the incredible staff at the Methuen senior center and its awesome volunteers for a fantastic 100 birthday party. Thank you to all who participated and made it such a special birthday I will never forget.

Thank you

Tuffic Hatem

By Melissa Fili
MethuenLife Writer
If laughter and friendship are the keys to extra-long life, then 100-year-olds Violet Jessel and Tuffic Hatem have mastered their golden years!

Their double birthday bash, held last month at the Methuen Senior Activity Center, drew 130 friends and family members to a festive luncheon that featured food, singing, dancing, plenty of hugs and an overload of smiles. It’s obvious that these two exude joy and a love of life!

“Violet and Tuffic are extended family members,” noted Senior Center Assistant Director Susan Riccio, who also leads the center’s Happy Hearts Chorus. “Violet has been with me in the Happy Hearts since I became director 25 years ago! She has played such parts as Tinker Bell (and) Annie just to name a couple. She is fun to be with, loves everyone, and that laugh!

“Tuffic, what a wonderful man, wonderful family,” Riccio continued. “He plays 45’s. He and his wife could always be seen at our center for mostly all our events! He’s just a fun guy!”

Violet Jessel is a 40-year original member of the Happy Hearts Chorus and taught yoga at the Methuen Senior Center for 15 years. The lifelong Haverhill resident has six children, 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Friends say she’s always smiling and never has a bad word to say. As Violet cruised about the party, she had no need for a cane or even eyeglasses! She credits her good health to her daily practices of yoga and meditation.

“The body is spiritual,” she smiled, adding. “Life is good when you have friends, and I have many. Enjoy life! God sends you a good surprise every day. Just send love to everybody – no hatred.”

Tuffic Hatem is familiar across Methuen, as he had a long career with the city.

“I was the last person to let you down,” joked Hatem, who “dug graves by hand” for many years at St. Anthony’s Cemetery. He also drove trucks for the Department of Public Works for 19 years, he added.

He credits his active lifestyle as the key to his longevity.

“If you sit, you rot,” he said, “so you’ve gotta keep moving! I’m like that Energizer Bunny. Plus, I’ve got quite a few friends.”

Relatives confirmed that Hatem doesn’t like downtime. When a friend recently gave him some cans of paint, this proud homeowner got right to work. Much of his home’s interior is now … pink.

“Eh … I was tired of the white,” he shrugged.

Hatem, who has been involved with the Senior Center for decades, especially when his wife Diana was alive, is a proud family man. He’s got two daughters, three grandchildren and a 3-month-old great-grandson named Callahan Tuffic Hatem.

“He’s named after me!” beamed the 100-year-old, holding up a baby photo. 

The party included a catered chicken-pot-pie-with-all-the-fixins lunch catered by Lenzi’s, followed by two huge sheet cakes and a plethora of sweet treats – all donated by local businesses and organizations. Mayor Neil Perry was in attendance, along with state Rep. Ryan Hamilton and state Sen. Pavel Payano who presented the honorees with celebratory citations. Activities Director Jennifer Loiselle and a solid group of senior volunteers oversaw party details, right down to flower-filled vases and pretty hand-painted rocks that served as centerpieces, loads of balloons, a card-signing station complete with through-the-years photos, and more. Fire Lt. Jim Garrity led the large crowd in singing “Happy Birthday.” Then the DJ opened up the dancefloor for an afternoon of music and movement.

It was an extraordinary day for a pair of extraordinary people!