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100 years of memories

September 22, 2000

100 years of memories



By ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY / Staff Writer


WILLIAMSPORT - Ruth Wiley got soaked when her husband, "Skinny," couldn't figure out the convertible top on the couple's brand new Model T Ford.

The lifelong Williamsport resident relished watching the canal boats maneuver through locks on the C&O Canal. She loved riding the train to Sharpsburg and the trolley to Hagerstown.

A staunch Democrat, Wiley has voted in every presidential election since the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920.

She will turn 100 on Oct. 5., and she plans to once again support her party in November's election.

"I've had a long life and a good life," said Wiley, who lives at Clearview Nursing Home in Hagerstown.

She was among six centenarians and soon-to-be 100-year-olds honored Friday at Williamsport Retirement Village's sixth annual National Centenarians Day celebration.

Flavia Cunningham, 101; Lillian Doub, 99; Marie Esswein, 100; Edith Miller, 99; and Celia Staley, 104, were the event's other honorees.

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Ravenwood Lutheran Village resident Teressa Brinton, 107, chose not to attend, said activities director Abby Housel.

"These centenarians have seen a whole lot," said state Sen. Donald R. Munson, R-Washington, who was the event's guest speaker.

They've witnessed the invention of hula hoops and pet rocks, and watched men land on the moon and fight in two World Wars, Munson said.

"They've seen a strengthening of democracy in this country," he said.

They've endured.

Wiley attributed her longevity to hard work. Her family thinks her "feistiness" may have had something to do with it, said Wiley's granddaughter, Connie Spong, who spoke about her at the event.

Doub, who will turn 100 next July, attributed her longevity to "taking life as it comes."

The Ravenwood resident said she never liked people telling her what to do, and her best advice to others was, "Mind your own business."

Miller, who will turn 100 in January, said "a good life and country food" have helped her near the century mark. The Hagerstown resident, who also lives at Ravenwood, grew up on a farm with 12 siblings.

Staley, who lives at Williamsport Retirement Village, attributed her long life to her strong personality and to "complaining a lot" but not worrying about anything, said Beth Stull, public relations director at Williamsport Retirement Village.

Staley said she never expected to live to 104.

She's "sort of become our Centenarians Day supermodel," Stull said.

Cunningham's "beautiful smile and bright blue eyes" bring joy to her friends at Reeder Memorial Home in Boonsboro, said activities director Debbie Ballam.

Neither Staley nor Cunningham were feeling well enough to attend Friday's celebration.

A century of living has seemed like a long time, said Esswein, who lives at Heartland of Martinsburg (W.Va.). The Missouri native remembers the first "horseless carriages," silent movies and the 1903 Mississippi River flood.

She said computers are "wonderful, but I don't understand them."

But Esswein understands that hard work and faith in God will get you far in life, said her son, Carlton, who spoke about her at Friday's event.

Cunningham, Doub, Esswein, Miller, Staley and Wiley have lived long and giving lives, Munson said.

He presented each honoree with a congratulatory citation.

"Our country, our state and our community are better for you all having been here," Munson said.

Williamsport Mayor John W. Slayman and Fred Otto, executive director of the Washington County Commission on Aging, were present at the event, along with nursing home officials.

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