Celebrating 80 years of an impactful life


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, several drive-by birthday celebrations have taken place in the city and throughout the country. There was another one Sunday as a special lady celebrated her 80th.

It wasn’t only to celebrate her long life, but the countless lives she’s touched along the way.

- Advertisement -

Pauline Whalen, fondly known as Ms. Polly, spent 47 years as the director of her own daycare that she ran out of her home.

“And I told mama I’ll never marry, but I’ll have all these adoptive children,” says Whalen.

Well, she got it halfway right. She’s been married to her husband, Wayne, for 62 years, and they have 2 children. However, through her daycare, she has cared for more than 500 kids.

“All these kids, they feel like they’re my children,” Whalen says.

They say they have that same love for her. In fact, many of the adults she cared for more than 25 years ago showed up for her 80th birthday surprise. Some of them even have kids of their own.

“She’s an angel on Earth,” Monica Whalen says.  “She was the same Ms. Polly back then as she is today. She’s honest. She’ll tell it like it is, and her number one thing is learn how to treat people.”

Monica Whalen says she teaches that to her 16-year-old daughter, who also attended the daycare as a child. But now it hits a little closer to home because she’s a part of the family after marrying Ms. Polly’s son.

However, the celebration was bitter-sweet because Whalen has terminal cancer, but she says she feels blessed to be surrounded with love after all these years.

“I want them to remember the good things that we did together and the times that we shared together,” Whalen says.  “I pray for that guidance every day – that I’ve touched their lives.”