NOVATO (KPIX 5) — A woman who turned a century old got an unexpected birthday surprise.
Libba Patterson was named Novato’s Queen of the Day. When you turn 100, you earn that title and even get to wear a tiara.
“I am so surprised at how much they appreciate me,” says the birthday girl. “I’m just Libba.”
“She is the most amazing person that I’ve ever met in my life, I want to be just like her when I grow up,” says friend Stefani. “She loves Cracker Jacks. She’s not allowed to eat them but I don’t care. At her age, she deserves them.”
Stefani is one of a couple hundred people who wanted to come share a hug and a picture with this self-proclaimed sassy lady.
“In this town, you just have a party or you say there’s going to be a party and people show up, but you never knew who or how many,” says Michael Patterson, Libba’s son.
Out of all the people in the room, one family member was missing: a man she calls her adopted son, and whom the rest of the world calls the 8th United Nations Secretary General – Ban Ki-moon.
“Ban Ki-moon is just my boy,” says Libba. “You know, I’ve had him since he was 18, and he’s just my son.”
They met in the summer of 1962 when then 18-year-old Mr. Ban spent one week in Novato with Libba, her husband, and their three kids as part of a program through the American Red Cross.
It’s that experience that Mr. Ban credits for inspiring him to become a diplomat and to bring peace and unity to the world.
“I’m grateful for her warmth, love, caring for me when I was just a poor, young boy,” he says. “It was a real cultural shock, great cultural shock.”
Today, it was Libba’s turn to be shocked when a surprise guest showed up: her beloved Ki-moon.
Although they are close, Mr. Ban and the woman he calls his “American mom” have only been able to see each other once in a while.
“This is remarkable for anyone who would live 100 years, I think was a great source of motivation and inspiration for me,” he said.
“The only way this world is going to be any better is for everyone to be able to show their love to the next person whether they know them or not,” says Libba.
Just like she did all those years ago for a poor boy from Korea.