Hagerstown woman puzzled by the fuss over her 100th birthday

August 06, 2008|By JANET HEIM

HAGERSTOWN -- Ruby Staley is a private person, and 100 years of life hasn't changed that. She enjoys reading about others reaching the century mark, but doesn't understand the fuss about her recent birthday.

"Keep it short and sweet," she advises.

Staley was born in Halfway on June 8, 1908. She was the second of eight children -- three sons and five daughters -- of Eva and Clarence Snyder.

The family moved to West Virginia and lived in the country, raising their own produce and chickens. Clarence Snyder worked in a lime kiln, and Eva Snyder stayed home to care for the children and the family home.

Staley said she quit school when things got hard and went to work to help out the family financially. The family moved to Washington County when Ruby was about 18.


She met her husband, Fern Staley, at a dance at Pen Mar Park. They were married in 1933 and celebrated more than 50 years of marriage before Fern's death in 1988.

Fern Staley was a local barber, and Ruby Staley said the place she worked the longest was Southern Shoe Factory. When the company closed, she worked for a short time at Fairchild, as did her husband.

She was content to be a homemaker and was especially fond of baking, and would share with her neighbors.

The couple did not have children, but enjoyed their extended family of nieces and nephews. It is that extended family that threw a party for Staley on her birthday at Hickory Bridge Farm near Fairfield, Pa.

About 35 to 40 family members -- five generations -- were on hand for the party, even though Staley said cake and ice cream was enough of a celebration for her.

"If it makes them happy," Staley said.

She enjoys looking at a photo album of the event. Staley said she received "balloons galore" and lots of flower bouquets and cards, including one from President George W. and first lady Laura Bush.

Staley still lives in the Hagerstown home she and her husband bought 74 years ago. Her sisters buy groceries for her, and she has a woman who comes in twice a week to help with cooking, laundry and cleaning.

Staley, who is a member of First Christian Church, said she has a really nice family and has been blessed.

"No secret. The good Lord's been good to me," Staley said of her longevity.

She said she doesn't get out much anymore, but when she does, she enjoys eating out or going to the homes of family. Most of her friends have died, but those remaining brought her an ice cream cake at home for her birthday and sat around the table reminiscing, which Staley really enjoyed.

"Long and happy. I've had a good life, I tell you," Staley said.

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