Greenwood music-store owner celebrates 107 years

After more than a century, former jazz musician Rose Belland can still draw a crowd. Belland celebrated her 107th birthday on Jan. 12 with friends and family members at St. Anne Nursing and Rehabilitation Clinic in North Seattle."Rose's birthday is a big event every year," said Mary Ann Sedgwick, activities director at St. Anne. "Last year, about 65 people turned out for it." Belland requested her favorite - chocolate cake decorated with pink roses - but opted to skip the candles this year. Parties are true to form for Belland, according to her granddaughter Mary Weaver, who said her grandmother always was a bit of a party girl. "She was always dressed up," said Weaver, who describes her grandmother as the kind of woman who did housework in stiletto heels. "She still loves a cold beer every once in a while, too." A LIFETIME LOVE OF MUSICBelland and her late husband, Henry, shared a love of music and a rich history in Seattle, where for many years they owned and operated the Belland Music Shop on Greenwood Avenue North and North 85th Street. The shop was a fixture in the community where aspiring musicians could take saxophone and clarinet lessons from Henry, while Belland tended the store. Belland was a gifted piano player and organist, as well, and when she and Henry weren't working in the shop or teaching music, they were performing together. The couple often played jazz shows at local theaters and music venues around the city. Faurot's nightclub in Capitol Hill was a favorite of the pair, who lived in Queen Anne for most of their 50 years together in Seattle. The couple played music every year in the Seafair Parade and often performed on cruise ships bound for Alaska and Hawaii. Though the couple traveled with their music, Belland always loved returning home to Seattle. "She was very involved and interested in what was happening here," Weaver said. The Bellands were both members of the Seattle Musicians' Association and active in connecting with musicians and other people in the community. Weaver has fond childhood memories of her grandmother taking her to Pike Place Market, and to Shilshole Bay to the Little Coney ice cream shop. "We used to sit in the car at Golden Gardens, eating ice cream and looking out at the water and the boats," Weaver said. FOUR GENERATIONSBelland's only child, Beverly Baltzell, went on to have six children, of whom Weaver is the youngest. Weaver smiles as she uses her fingers to count up all of Belland's grandchildren. The final tally, in addition to six grandchildren, is 15 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren. Most of the family still lives in Washington state, and they visit whenever they can. "She doesn't know who everyone is anymore," Weaver said, "but she loves her grandchildren and is always happy to see family." The pace of life is slower than it once was for Belland, but she still has energy and enjoys doing activities with the other residents at St. Anne. Belland plays bingo and still has a sharp ear for music, making her unstoppable during games of "Name That Song." And though Belland can still hammer out a tune on the piano, her weakening eyesight makes it difficult for her to play. She loves to listen to music, however, and will smile and clap to the beat when someone else plays, Sedgwick said. She has even managed to figure out how to dance by holding Sedgwick's arms and sliding across the floor in her wheelchair.Belland is still in remarkably good health despite her age, and, according to Weaver, she's not on any medications. "She doesn't even take vitamins," she said. Weaver added that she thinks her grandmother's happy outlook and easygoing nature have likely contributed to her health and longevity: "She's just never sad or frustrated, and has the most amazing sense of humor. I'll tell her a joke, even a dirty one, and she just laughs and laughs." When Weaver asks her grandmother about the changes she's seen in her lifetime, Belland remarks that indoor plumbing was by far the best invention ever. "She's also fascinated by my cell phone," Weaver said. "She can't believe that I can carry a phone in my purse."Belland still likes to have her hair done up and wear her jewelry. She often wears strings of colorful beads draped around her neck or layered up her arms, a testament to how well she's doing in the weekly bingo games. Weaver visits her grandmother regularly, with a chocolate milkshake from Dick's on Lake City Way in hand. What's her grandmother's secret? Weaver answered, "Family, music and chocolate."[[In-content Ad]]