Making the years count

Local artist Marjorie Burtis celebrates 100th birthday with grand opening of watercolor exhibit

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

100 years young: On Tuesday, April 16, more than 100 family members and friends gathered at the Bucks County Visitor Center for Marjorie Burtis’ 100th birthday and her first-ever art exhibit. Samantha Bambino / Times Photo

Marjorie Burtis never considered herself an artist. The only time she ever picked up a brush was to paint the walls and furniture in her home. As far as making art professionally, the thought wasn’t something that ever crossed her mind.

But 12 years ago, when she moved into the Brunswick at Attleboro community, a personal care facility located at 290 E. Winchester Ave., Langhorne, she decided on a whim to take a watercolor class by instructor Marie Zukoff.

Burtis never dreamed that she would discover a hidden talent.

“I had them do studies, and when I saw her study, I knew she had a lot of promise,” Zukoff said. “Marjorie had no idea but she never missed a beat.”

Ever since, Burtis has been tirelessly honing her newly-discovered craft. On Tuesday, April 16, those efforts resulted in the unveiling of her first-ever art exhibit in the lobby of the Bucks County Visitor Center, 3207 Street Road, Bensalem.

More than 100 family members and friends were in attendance for not only Burtis’ creative achievement, but a major life milestone that few rarely reach — her 100th birthday.

Beginning at 2 p.m., invited guests carrying balloons and presents trickled in. They enjoyed snacks from a fruit platter, and had the opportunity to view Burtis’ professional collection, which includes a kitten, stunning scenes of nature, and a lighthouse.

Samantha Bambino / Times Photo

Shortly after, the woman of the hour arrived for her big day. Smiling ear-to-ear and still sharp as a whip, Burtis entered the Visitor Center to rounds of applause and cheers. Immediately, she thanked Zukoff and Terry Mills, activities director at Brunswick, for making both the exhibit and celebration possible.

“I’m very grateful that I’ve made it to this 100th birthday,” Burtis said.

So what’s her secret to living such a good, long life?

“There’s an old song ‘Day By Day,’ and I guess I just took it that way — day by day,” Burtis told The Times, adding that she makes it a point to exercise every day as well. “And to keep involved in things. That’s important.”

Over the span of the next hour, all in attendance formed a line in front of the seated Burtis, who spent several minutes chatting with each and every person who took the time to attend her reception. Photographs were taken, memories were reflected upon, and laughter ensued as Burtis caught up with old friends.

Samantha Bambino / Times Photo

Once everyone had the chance to congratulate Burtis, a white and pink “100” cake was wheeled to her, and the entire building erupted in unison to sing a well-deserved “Happy Birthday.”

Samantha Bambino / Times Photo

After Burtis blew out her candles, she once again expressed her thanks with a sincere air of gratitude and humbleness. She also made sure one thing was clear. Though she doesn’t know how much time she has left on this earth, she’ll continue to make the years count instead of counting the years. ••

If you go…

Marjorie Burtis’ watercolor exhibit will be on display at the Bucks County Visitor Center through May 15 daily, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It is free to attend.

For more information, go to visitbuckscounty.com/event/move-over-grandma-moses-here-comes-marjorie-burtis/13750

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com