By Dante Miller
MATTHEWS — The Happy Times Club celebrated the 90th birthday of founder Iris DeVore and the 92nd birthday of former club president David Guthrie on Feb. 7 at the Levine Senior Center.
Guests were treated to food, live music and nostalgia as they reminisced over family photographs and personal stories.
The Happy Times Club was founded in 1972 after DeVore witnessed how happy her mother-in-law was after participating in a group of the same name in one-stop-light town in South Carolina.
“Mrs. DeVore, my mother-in-law, was so distraught after her husband had died,” she said. “She found a lot of happiness after going to group down in Ninety-Six, S.C. and spending time with that group.
DeVore decided to start a meeting once a week at a Matthews church. Thirteen people came, and it has continued to grow. Members provided clothing, nutritional guidance and assistance with income taxes.
“When I first retired in 1992, my children were looking for activities for me and my wife to do,” Guthrie said. “One of them saw an ad in the paper about The Happy Times Club, which was meeting at the Methodist church in Matthews. So my daughter took us there, and I loved it.”
After six years or so, the group elected Guthrie as president. Even after his wife had a stroke, she loved going to the meetings.
Plenty of members have lost a spouse or close friend, recently moved or found themselves to be lonely. The Happy Times Club provides a sense of fun, entertainment and camaraderie for seniors during this time in their lives.
Over time, members realized they needed a place to reach more seniors. That place eventually became the Levine Senior Center.
DeVore always gives thanks to God for the achievements she has made over her lifetime, which includes the opening of the Levine Senior Center and and Matthews Help Center.
“Before The Happy Times Club, when I was 40, I felt like I didn’t do much with my life besides raising my children,” she said. “Now that I see all of these happy faces, I can honestly say I couldn’t imagine a more fulfilling life for myself.”