A cause for celebration

HARLINGEN — Family members describe Gladys Hamel, 99, as an inspiring woman who always tries her best to help those in need.

As a wife, mother and grandmother, Gladys has been there throughout several of her family members’ most cherished moments.

And soon, Gladys’ family will help her mark a very special milestone in her life.

On July 23, Gladys will celebrate her 100th birthday.

Jim Hamel, a son of Gladys and her late husband Louis, said his mother is looking forward to her birthday but is in disbelief that so many years have flown by.

Gladys isn’t sure what her secret to living such a long and happy life is, but she tries to keep herself as active as she can.

“I think it’s just the way she has lived life that has brought her to this age,” Jim’s wife, Barbara said. “It’s probably because of her stamina and determination.”

Barbara said she enjoys visiting Gladys often to clean her home and do her hair.

“She’s always looking at the bright side of things,” Barbara said. “She’s able to turn any negative situation and turn it around into something positive and inspiring.”

Originally from Wisconsin, Gladys and Louis visited the Valley often starting in the 1960s and became self-proclaimed Winter Texans until permanently moving to the area in the 1980s.

Jim said he remembers how excited his parents were to move to the Valley.

“That was right after my wife and I moved here. They actually kind of convinced me to come to Texas to teach and I taught in this state for about 32 years,” Jim said. “When we moved down here, it wasn’t a week later and all of a sudden they were on their way down here and found themselves a home in Elsa.”

Jim said after his father passed away, he and his wife helped Gladys find a home in Harlingen so she could be closer to family.

“She’s happy she doesn’t have to stay at the house all winter long because there’s no snow here,” Jim said. “She went through a lot of hard winters up north before they came down here.”

Gladys and the late Louis have four sons named Jim, Mark, Bruce and Raymond, as well as two late daughters Kathy and Cynthia.

Jim and Barbara said due to the circumstances of COVID-19, they’re not sure if all of Gladys’ out-of-state family members will be able to travel to Texas to celebrate her birthday, but there will be a family gathering to celebrate the momentous occasion.

“We’re hoping we can get family together. If there’s nobody else, it’ll be her grandsons Jeff and Brian who are Valley residents,” Jim said. “They both have a family and hopefully we can get that much of the family together for her birthday.”