By Leah Sander
WARSAW — A World War II veteran got a parade for her 100th birthday on Thursday, April 1, in Warsaw.
Friends and family lined up in vehicles and drove in a short parade from Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts’ parking lot past the entrance to Wyndham Garden’s Palette restaurant where Mary “Berniece” Wiggs was watching through a window.
American Legion Post 253 Auxiliary of North Webster President Alyssa Schmucker and Legion Club Manager Tracey Sleighter partnered with Wiggs’ family to organize the event.
“Well, Berniece has been a member of our Legion for a long, long time and she’s a World War II veteran, so we just wanted to get together and show her our love,” said Schmucker.
Wiggs served in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) from 1942-45, said her daughter Roberta Wiggs. She was stationed in both Italy and South Africa.
Wiggs is originally from the Alexandria and Elwood area. She and her late husband Billy Wiggs ended up purchasing a lake home at North Webster, which they moved to permanently after retirement.
“Berniece is a buddy and she’s an auxiliary member plus a veteran and we’re officers of the auxiliary and we have been for years, so we’ve known Berniece for years,” said Auxiliary Treasurer Janet Miller who came to be part of the parade with Auxiliary Media Chair Beth Ann Stratman. “So we’re pretty excited to see her. We haven’t seen her since she got into the nursing home.”
“We love Berniece,” added Stratman.
Wiggs now lives at Miller’s Merry Manor of Warsaw.
Wiggs said she enjoyed her parade. “It feels pretty good,” she said of reaching 100.
Her family also had a party for her. Berniece has two surviving children, twins Roberta Wiggs and Becky Barker.
She also had two sons, Mark and Greg Wiggs, who are both deceased. She has five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
“I haven’t seen her for a year,” noted Roberta Wiggs. “And we’re just delighted that she’s healthy enough to enjoy all of us and we’re able to enjoy her too and that the American Legion and this community in North Webster has embraced her.”