Maxine Long turned 97 on July 13 and celebrated the big day surrounded by family and friends at the Pacific McDonald’s July 14.

This is a gathering she has enjoyed every year since 1992, the year after she moved to Pacific.

Long says she has outlived her sister Doris and brothers Robert and Wayne. Her daughter Ann Roddy and her husband Gene were present for the birthday celebration, and her niece and grandnephew, Connie and Nathan Londrie, drove from Keokuk, Iowa, for the party.

“She (Londrie) promised my sister — her mother — that she’d be here every year for my birthday,” Long said, “and has not missed a single one.”

Joy and Roger Gurette arranged this year’s celebration. The couple are close friends with Long, who they became acquainted with when Joy underwent a prolonged illness and Roger, a Pacific police officer at the time, caught her attention at the McDonald’s breakfast group.

“Don’t be lonely,” she told him. “I’ll be your friend.”

“For years we kidded that she was his girlfriend,” Joy said. “He was so happy to go see her there when he had to spend so much time alone.”

Although Long lives alone, she does not mention being lonely and recalls a long active life.

Long was born in Dana, Iowa, a small town near Des Moines, to a family of one sister and two brothers. She left home at age 16 for a job taking care of two children. She later became a waitress, work she found for the rest of her working life.

“I never had any trouble finding a job,” she said.

At 19, she and a friend decided to hitchhike to Hasting, Neb. They didn’t have to do much thumbing, a kindly truck driver took them the entire way.

There was a nearby Army base and, at age 22, Long met Earl Andres, who worked on the base as a civilian employee. They were married for 37 years and never had children.

Earl died in 1971 and later that same year, the widow met and married another Earl, Earl Long. Together they adopted a baby girl, whom they named Ann.

“Her mother didn’t want her,” Long said. “The mother and I had the same doctor. When I found out that she didn’t want the baby, I said I wanted her.”

After her daughter Ann and her husband Gene Roddy moved to Pacific, Long moved here as well. She has always maintained her own residence.

Now her daughter comes to wake her each morning at 5:30 a.m.

“I wake up early, but she comes to help me with my medicine,” Long said.

On the morning of her birthday party, Long, her daughter and son-in-law and her niece and grandnephew arrived at McDonald’s at 7 a.m.

“We wanted to have a family breakfast before everyone got here,” she said.