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 Elsie Dickty is overwhelmed at the show of love from her family and friends for her 90th birthday.

Elsie Dickty is overwhelmed at the show of love from her family and friends for her 90th birthday.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Shelby woman celebrates 90th birthday with drive-by celebration

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published July 27, 2020

 Dickty waves as her birthday parade drives by July 26. She greeted her well wishes with smile and a T-shirt that said “Don’t hate me because I make 90 look so good.”

Dickty waves as her birthday parade drives by July 26. She greeted her well wishes with smile and a T-shirt that said “Don’t hate me because I make 90 look so good.”

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Elsie Dickty, a 90-year-old, 30-year resident of Shelby Township, spent several months inside her home quarantined since the novel coronavirus hit in March.     

Recently, she agreed to allow her family to celebrate her birthday — with social distancing, of course.

On July 26, Dickty’s family hosted a 90th birthday drive-by celebration for her. She greeted her visitors with a smile and excitement as they drove by.

Dickty has been active at the senior center in Shelby Township and enjoys coloring activities.  

Her husband was Detective Sgt. Paul Dickty, of the Detroit Police Department, whose service was noted by the Spirit of Detroit Award from Mayor Coleman Young. Paul Dickty is now deceased.

Daughter Kristin Cangemi said that the birthday drive-by was a great way to show her grandmother that people really do care and that you can still celebrate together with some distance.

“I think that this drive-by will show my grandma how many people care about her. After being quarantined because of COVID-19, this is a wonderful way to celebrate such a milestone year,” Cangemi said a few days before the event.

The drive-by included family and friends who got in their vehicles and cruised by for a wave and birthday wishes.

Dickty, who is originally from Detroit, is the love and foundation of her family: husband Paul, daughter Paula (Tom) Cangemi, son Dennis (Mary) Dickty along with her three grandchildren Greg Dickty, Jessica (Martin Plate) and Kristin Cangemi. She also has great grandchild Margot Plate and another great grandchild expected any day, known as “No. 2”.

Cangemi said that while growing up, Dickty was always the greatest caregiver to the entire family, and she continues be one. Dickty now enjoys card making and sends her homemade, one-of-a-kind cards to her loved ones to celebrate all the events that take place, or to simply say hi.

Cangemi said, growing up, Dickty was a fun grandmother.

The dining table Dickty kept pristine for her children “became the place for finger painting, Play-Doh, macaroni and glue projects, and anything her imagination could think of to make her grandchildren happy,” Cangemi said.

Son Dennis Dickty said his mom’s home in Detroit was always open to family, friends and neighbors who would drop in for a cup of Sanka and a plate of cookies.

He said that his mother had a lot to do with his father’s Spirit of Detroit Award.

“Upon receiving the Spirit of Detroit Award, my father felt it belonged as much to my mother as it did himself,” Dennis Dickty said. His father worked out of an east side precinct near Gratiot Avenue and Conner Street.

“She always said it was tough being the wife of a police officer; you kissed them goodbye in the morning and worried all day until they returned. She persevered, though, and made a good life for all of us,” he said.

Dickty was always active in organizations at her parish, St. Raymond’s, and continued to be when she moved out to Shelby Township. In recent years, Dickty has taken pride in her artwork and card making skills at the Shelby Township Senior Center while making many friends.

Dennis Dickty said the pandemic has been difficult.

“The pandemic is hitting her hard with the quarantine, as she is running out of handmade cards and the socialization that comes with the activity. Her family and friends wish Elsie the happiest and healthiest birthday as she starts her 90th revolution around the sun,” he said.

Cangemi said her grandmother always showed how much she cared in everything she did, including her card making.

“The love of family, never leaving a stray pet without a home, caring for others, holiday traditions, all the Polish and Italian food you can cram into one meal, and her love of education are just some of the values she has instilled in us. She has always shown us that family, and friends that turn into family, are more valuable than all the diamonds in the world,” she said.

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