Home hosts birthday party for 102-year-old resident

December 26, 2002|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

BOONSBORO - Dates and names are getting harder for Martha Rice to remember now that she's 102 years old.

But hymns, though, she sings - and remembers - sharply.

"What a friend we have in Jesus," Rice sings, after some prompting. "All our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!"

The most important advice for a long, healthy life, she said, is "try to serve the Lord, for He's our boss."

Rice turned 102 Wednesday - Christmas Day. The staff and residents at Reeders Memorial Home in Boonsboro, where she has lived for the last two years, threw her a party on Christmas Eve.


Rice was born in Wolfsville in Frederick County, Md., and fondly cherishes the years she attended Salem United Methodist Church. She said she joined when she was 13 and walked 1 1/4 miles as a youth to get there every Sunday.

"I liked to go to church and I liked to go to school," said Rice, who still considers the Bible one of her favorite books. "Reading was the best. I always made about 100 (as a grade). I was better in reading than anything. I never liked arithmetic very good."

Rice was raised on a cattle and crop farm and worked there into adulthood. She went on to become a seamstress.

Rice said she drinks mostly "juices and white pudding" these days, and never eats any meat.

"I like cookies, but I don't eat many of them," she said.

The biggest difference between today and her youth, Rice said, is the proliferation of illegal drug use - this "dope business," as she put it.

"When I was on the farm, you didn't hear of drugs much," she said. "They all had work to do."

Rice was married twice. She said she met her first husband, Roy Poffinberger, while they were watching a pig race.

Her daughter, Rae Belcher, 75, of Beallsville in Montgomery County, Md., said she has heard the story, too, but never figured out the details.

Rice was married to her second husband, Welty W. Rice, about 25 years before he died, Belcher said.

Rice was one of seven children, Belcher said. Besides Rice, the only living sibling is a brother, Frank Stottlemyer, 88, of the Myersville, Md., area.

Rice's two sons, Charles and Frank, have died.

Belcher - who missed the Christmas Eve party but expected to visit on Christmas - described her mother as "strictly a family person" who always thinks of the welfare of other people before her own.

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