Castle Gap’s longtime owner Maxine Bennett has a reputation for being the life of the party.

Her 97th birthday bash proved it. Bennett fluttered from person to person throughout the jewelry store and greeted every guest as if they were a long-lost family member.

Maxine Bennett and her daughter, Beverly. Photo courtesy of Sherry Ward 

Bennett revels in being the center of attention, marketing manager Sherry Ward says. She is counting down the days until she turns 100, when she’ll celebrate with a birthday extravaganza and her first cigarette in several years.

“It’s inspiring to be around someone of that age who has more lust for life than most people,” Ward says.

Castle Gap became part of the community in 1973, after Bennett’s husband died. She felt unfulfilled living stateside because the couple travelled across 31 countries together. Her son suggested they sell Native American jewelry in Europe as a way to continue exploring the globe.

Although the business venture was unsuccessful abroad, they found their niche stateside.

Bennett and her two children, Scotty and Beverly, co-own the 40-year-old business. She still works six days per week and manages the business’ books.

“She’s my mother. She’s my boss,” Beverly says. “I don’t take orders very well, but we do very well.”

Native American art “adorns with authority,” Bennett says, but interacting with customers is why retirement isn’t an option.

“I love the people that come in. Look at them. Aren’t they just fabulous?”

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