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Firefighters surprise woman with 100th birthday celebration

Jeanette Carty, whose late husband served with the local fire department, got a special surprise from firefighters on her 100th birthday.
/ Source: TODAY

Usually when a large group of firefighters shows up at your house, it's not for a good reason.

For Jeanette Carty, it was cause for celebration when members of the Norfolk Fire-Rescue department in Virginia decided to make her 100th birthday extra special.

A group of firefighters stood at attention in front of her home while she was presented with flowers to celebrate her milestone birthday on June 22.

"I was never more surprised in my life,'' Carty told TODAY. "To see the firemen all lined up with their red shirts and black pants, oh my goodness it was amazing."

Carty is part of the Norfolk Fire-Rescue family considering her late husband, Joe, served in the department from 1942 to 1972.

"That's the real big connection, just that family lineage that has served in this department,'' Norfolk Battalion Chief Julian Williamson told TODAY. "It's that way with fire departments. Once you're in and you serve, you're part of a close-knit family."

One of the firefighters in the city's training department had gotten wind that it was Carty's 100th birthday, prompting the department to surprise her.

"That was the real special thing here — she's 100 years old, which is amazing,'' Williamson said.

The surprise came before a three-hour party with her family members.

"I was just overcome with appreciation,'' Carty said. "It was so exciting."

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The nearest fire station is only six blocks from her home, where the mother of two, grandmother of three and great-grandmother of four raised her children.

Carty and her husband were married for 74 years before his death at 94 in 2008. She admittedly was a little worried when Joe initially became a member of the fire department.

"He had one occasion where a door he opened burst into flames, burned off his eyelashes and burned his hands bad enough to be bandaged, but that was the worst experience he had,'' she said. "I kind of got used to it."

When it came to revealing her secrets for longevity, the life-long Norfolk resident kept it short and sweet.

"I've lived a pretty simple life,'' she said.

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.