PROVINCETOWN — The hottest event in town on the afternoon of May 22 wasn’t at the Boatslip or the A-House. It was at Seashore Point, the independent elder living facility on Alden Street. There, in a sunlit common room, dozens of friends and revelers gathered to fete longtime Provincetown resident Ollie Ahmuty on the occasion of her 100th birthday.
As Ahmuty, energetic, luminous, and wearing a tiara and a corsage of yellow roses, held court, her friend John Gilbride leaned over and asked her how it felt to be 100 years old.
“I don’t think it’s any different than 99,” she said.
Born in 1923, Ollie (short for Olive) met her eventual husband Ray (short for Raynor) while they were both in elementary school in Pawtucket, R.I. In the early 1950s, the couple began spending weekends in Provincetown in an East End apartment next to St. Mary of the Harbor, where Ollie is still a parishioner.
After a few years of visits, the Ahmutys built a house in North Truro. Eventually, though, it was back to Provincetown, where they built a house on Bayberry Avenue. They retired and made that house their home in 1994.
“The neighbors were always good,” Ahmuty said.
One neighbor was Brian Farley, who, with his husband, was renovating the house next door. The two couples moved in on the same weekend and became fast friends, he said. Ray Ahmuty, who was an avid painter, died in 2016. Farley now splits his time between Provincetown and Florida; he comes up every month to visit with Ollie.
“Everybody knows Ollie,” he said. It’s true: named the Council on Aging’s Senior of the Year in 2010, Ahmuty has served the town in almost every capacity imaginable. Until three years ago, she was a vote counter at elections and town meetings.
“That meant no mistakes,” her friend Carol Pesiri said. Pesiri and Ahmuty have both lived in Provincetown for years, but they met when traveling in Paris, Pesiri said.
Ahmuty has also greeted visitors for the Chamber of Commerce, volunteered answering phones for the Council on Aging, and welcomed parishioners and worked the soup kitchen at St. Mary’s, which held another birthday party for her on the previous day. There, she received special commendations from State Sen. Julian Cyr of Truro and State Rep. Sarah Peake of Provincetown.
Besides being beloved for her community service and warm sense of humor, Ahmuty is known for her impeccable style. Until seven years ago, she wore her signature sky-high heels everywhere she went.
“She kicked everyone up a notch,” Pesiri said. “In Provincetown, everyone’s casual. But Ollie was never casual. She always dressed to the nines.”
“I’ve never seen her wear pants,” Farley said.
Ahmuty has always been fabulous, it would seem. Before Ollie and Ray got married, she served three stints as a Radio City Music Hall Rockette, making her part of an illustrious lineage of the country’s finest precision dancers. She participated in local dance competitions in Rhode Island as a teenager. “I’ve danced most of my life,” Ahmuty said.
TD Chipman, who works as a caretaker at Seashore Point, remembers seeing Ahmuty for the first time at Stop & Shop when he moved to Provincetown in 2006. “She was elegantly dressed, her makeup was flawless, and she had on three- or four-inch spike heels,” he said. He’s glad he’s gotten to know her at Seashore Point. “She’s the kindest, most generous person,” he said.
The Ahmutys moved to Seashore Point in 2008, making them one of the first couples to embrace the rebuilt facility. “You get to a point where you know it’s too much, so I left the big place,” Ollie said. “We were the third to move here,” she said. “I have no complaints.”
“We moved her in with sawdust on the walls,” said Walter Winnowski, Gilbride’s partner, who organized the party. Several partygoers remembered how, when Winnowski, Gilbride, and the Ahmutys lived near each other in town, Winnowski would shovel the older couple’s driveway when it snowed.
Seashore Point often used Ollie and Ray in its early ad campaigns to coax other people in town to join them, friends said. The complex, which now has 81 apartments, including nine affordable units, also has wellness and rehabilitation centers onsite.
Raucous parties like Ollie’s 100th happened much more frequently at Seashore Point before Covid, Winnowski said. He and Gilbride moved in nine years ago. “This is what we’re trying to get back to, what you see today,” Winnowski said. Many newer Seashore Point condo owners stopped by to drop off birthday cards and have a piece of cake.
Two days of birthday festivities would tire out a 23-year-old reporter, but as the party wrapped up, Ahmuty was in good spirits. “Doing well so far,” she said, knocking on the wooden arm of her chair. Gilbride approached her for a toast. “Her favorite toast is ‘up yours,’ ” he said.
“Don’t print that!” Ahmuty laughed.
Ahmuty isn’t sure yet what her 101st year on Earth holds. She may try Florida for a bit. But Provincetown, where a community of friends loves her so dearly, is home.
“It’s been a wonderful life,” she said. “I’m very happy here.”