Bristolian's secret to turning 100? Staying active, and lots of Bingo

By Manny Correira
Posted 6/4/24

Betty (Jones) Grimo officially reached the 100-year plateau on May 29, with all the pomp and circumstance befitting a queen.

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Bristolian's secret to turning 100? Staying active, and lots of Bingo


Any time someone turns 100, it’s usually time to celebrate. For Elizabeth (Jones) Grimo, that time came on Sunday, May 26, when a majority of family and friends gathered inside the Bristol VFW Hall to pay tribute to a woman who was well-liked and admired by many.

Betty, as everyone calls her, officially reached the 100-year plateau on May 29 with all the pomp and circumstance befitting a queen. Always well-dressed and ready for the unexpected, she arrived at the VFW and was reduced to tears when she saw the number people clapping vigorously upon her entrance.

“This is really something,”’ she announced. “To see all my family and friends here makes me so happy.”

Born on May 29, 1924 in Bristol, Betty attended local schools, starting with the former Taft School on Hope Street, which was located in the vicinity of the Colt State Park entrance.

“She went through the local school system, but then she had to go to work to help support the family,” remembers her oldest daughter, Betty (St. Laurent) Budde, who traveled all the way from Arizona with her husband, Butch, to be part of the celebration.

Betty did eventually get her GED and later worked at the former Bristol Manufacturing Co. and Converse Rubber Co. She would go on to marry and have six children (three girls and three boys).

As her daughter, Mickey Perry, whom she now lives with in Somerset, Mass., pointed out, “My mom’s favorite saying was ‘Everything in Moderation.’ That’s how she lived her life.”

Even during the Great Depression, Betty found a way to keep the family together, regardless of any hardships.

As one might expect, Betty Grimo had a deep appreciation and affection for the Bristol Fourth of July Celebration. She always watched the big parade and always collected the annual Fourth of July buttons (29 at last count). She always loved to travel, especially to see her children in Colorado and Arizona, among other locations.

Having lived alone for the past 20 years before moving in with daughter, Mickey, a former nurse, Betty never thought she’d live to be 100, but she was always active. That was the key.

One of her greatest joys was playing bingo twice a week at the Warren Senior Center.

“Oh, how I loved to play that game,” she smiled. “I met many great people at the Warren Senior Center, and I wish I could have continued playing.”
“Betty was one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet,” said Warren resident and Senior Center lunch program associate Anne Sousa. “She loved bingo and everybody loved her.”

Richard A. Pray, also of Warren, works the Warren Senior Center bingo every Friday and said Betty had a fondness for the game like few others.
“She won at bingo many times,” he noted, “And she really could play. Betty did everything well, and was beloved by all.”

People came from five different states last week to join in her 100th birthday, as far away as Washington, Illinois, Colorado, Arizona, and Nevada.

One of the highlights of her birthday celebration was a citation presented from the Town of Bristol commemorating this historic occasion. Members of the Bristol Town Council, including Aaron Ley, Antonio “Tony” Teixeira, and Tim Sweeney, made the presentation, much to Betty’s delight.

As comical as she could get, after receiving many cards and flower arrangements, Betty shouted out, “What, no message from the President?” That brought out a resounding ovation from the entire crowd.

One of her grandsons, Steven Perry, spelled out her life in detail, and what she was able to accomplish and endure over these past 100 years. She even serenaded the crowd with a rendition of “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries,” which was well-received by everyone.

Ida Hoffman, who will turn 98 in November, has known Betty Grimo for a long time, and says bingo has meant a great deal to her.

“Betty is somebody special,” said Ida. “She’s participated at the Warren Senior Center for a long time, but unfortunately, she needed a walker and had to give up her apartment where she lived in Bristol. I have to say she’s done very well for herself.”

2024 by East Bay Media Group

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.