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Columbia Missourian

DEAR READER: Let's throw a party for the 100 Ages celebs

By Tom Warhover
July 13, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Dear Reader,

I’m pretty sure I saw two local celebrities Wednesday.


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I was watching a retirement planning presentation at MU’s Memorial Union when I noticed a couple two rows ahead and to my right. The man had a full dark beard without any gray – something I haven’t been able to claim for a long time. The woman had long straight brown hair.

They looked familiar. Eventually it came to me: Chris and Beth Rota, age 33 in the Missourian’s 100 Ages, A Century of Voices project. They were in the only video interview featuring two people. Three, actually, although their baby didn’t have a speaking part. Crying, a little bit. But not speaking yet.

It felt like a celebrity sighting – that moment when you realize this person in public was on your screen. In the video, the Rotas shared an incredibly intimate moment in describing the birth of their son at home.

In that way, there are lots of celebrities around town today. The feedback to 100 Ages, often spontaneous and unprompted, has been overwhelmingly positive. I’m like others who feel grateful that so many mid-Missourians chose to share such compelling moments from their lives.

We ought to throw a party for them.

In fact, we will, assuming we can pull it off. Here’s the idea. It’s all a hope, not a plan at this point, so let me know what you think.

The Missourian will find a venue – MU’s Reynolds Alumni Center, say, or some other site – for a weeknight this fall. A local florist provides corsages for the 100 Ages participants who can make it. Monitors are scattered about, each one showing a loop of 10 interviews, grouped by decade. Still photos surround each monitor.

People wander from decade to decade, watching the videos and meeting the stars of the night. There’s a cash bar, and perhaps some appetizers, depending on sponsors and money.

And perhaps we even pass the hat for some local charities, making a community event that directly benefits some community organizations. (No, I’m not thinking of raising money for the Missourian endowment fund.)

What do you think? Would you come? What should be added to the party?

Celebrating the tapestry of lives of mid-Missourians. It seems like the best of reasons for a party.