Big surprises mark special birthdays

2012-02-26T00:00:00Z Big surprises mark special birthdaysBy MARY PICKETT mpickett@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette
February 26, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Leap-year celebrant: Margia Pretlow

Job: Admissions counselor for the Rocky Mountain College physician assistant program

Family: Husband Ben Pretlow

Margia Pretlow, who was born on Feb. 29, doesn’t choose between Feb. 28 and March 1 to celebrate her birthday on three out every four years.

She celebrates both days.

A few times, she’s marked her birthday with a week’s worth of lunches and dinners with friends and family.

Growing up in South Carolina, her father explained to her why her birthday was special by showing her on a calendar where Feb. 29 would be if it wasn’t Leap Year.

While working as an assistant chef at Gus & John’s Italian Villa in Maryland, she discovered two of her co-workers also had leap year birthdays.

After moving to Billings, Pretlow first worked for Norwest Bank, which now is Wells Fargo. She joined the staff at Rocky after earning a bachelor’s degree in 2001.

For the last three years, she’s worked with applicants from around the world interested in enrolling in Rocky’s physician assistant program.

February is special for more than just her birthday.

With Valentines Day on Feb. 14 and her wedding anniversary on Feb. 21, there are many happy occasions to observe.

But that hasn’t stopped her husband, Ben, from surprising her more than once with a special birthday party, too.

He’s pulled off those parties because she’s “so busy with living I overlook the obvious,” she said.

One year, the couple was moving into a new Billings home.

While Margia was at the old home packing, Ben told her he was going to fix holes in the walls of their new home. Instead, he actually was calling many of their friends to come to a party.

When Margia pulled up to their new home, she didn’t think it was odd that lots of cars were parked nearby. Only when she came inside and found a crowd of friends that she realized she had walked

into her own birthday party.

Everyone brought folding chairs, food and decorations to make their nearly bare home festive.

“We had a blast,” she remembers.

Another time, Ben told her to get dressed up because he was taking her to dinner.

Walking into a local hotel, Margia thought nothing when the desk clerk said to Ben “They are all there.”

She followed him into a room where a “whole slew of friends” were waiting.

“This year, I’m planning my own birthday dinner so I won’t be tricked,” she said with a laugh.

Friends have tried to wheedle out of her just how many birthdays she’s had.

She admits to having had at least 12 leap year birthdays, but is keeping the total to herself.

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