Family and friends surprise 100-year-old mentor in Burlington Co.

CINNAMINSON, N.J. (WPVI) -- A 100-year-old principal was surprised by family and friends today in Burlington County for her birthday.

The Philadelphia native had a big impact on those she worked with.

This moment was a century in the making for Louisa Groce at The Merion in Cinnaminson.

"All of you, blessings from God," said Groce.

100 years is a long life.

Groce says she hopes everyone is "grateful for life itself."

She still lives it to the fullest in fact she's is totally independent.

But she says it's what she did throughout her life that set her up for continued success.

And it all started with wanting to "work with people, love them and cherish them," said Groce.

She became an educator teaching special education in the Philadelphia.

One of the first people she ever taught though was her younger sister Evelyn Spann.

Louisa's sister Evelyn Spann said, "She was almost like a second mother. She took care of me. She gave me all of her wonderful advice that mothers do because she was such a great person."

Groce helped start the Franklin House which is a program aimed at at-risk children.

She even took some of her students to visit China in the 70s.

Ronald Jackson was 16 when he met his mentor.

"She showed me everything from humility to understanding other people, people from all walks of life," said Jackson.

Groce would also go on to raise five successful daughters.

They were all there today.

Louisa's daughter Yvette Jackson, "She still lives independently she still drives. We're all hoping we got some of those genes."

Then, when she was done teaching education she had another calling to teach about God.

At the age of 81, she became the oldest newly ordained pastor in the history of the Lutheran Church.

There's no doubt she lived to serve and wouldn't have it any other way.

"The people that I've helped we have accepted the help or given help to me that's a gift. And to me that's God's gift," Groce said.

We asked Groce if she had any advice for younger generations.

She said her mother always taught her you can go two ways in life.

You can rise to the top or sink to the bottom.

She says, anyone, if you work hard enough can rise to the top.

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