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November 6, 2013

Just hitting her stride at 100

A big smile creeps across Marion Gilham’s face. “Come in. This makes me a little nervous,” she said with a laugh.

On Nov. 14 Gilham will officially hit the century mark. “You know it’s not so uncommon to have someone live as long as me now,” Gilham said. “I think there are quite a few people who live to be 100.”

Gilham was born on Nov. 14, 1913 just outside of Otwell in Pike County. She married, had two sons, and spent her days helping her husband on the farm.

“We farmed and then raised chickens and turkeys. My husband got a job working construction. He really liked it and somehow I managed to finish the rest the birds, about 300 of them, with one of the neighbor boys,” she said. “A little hard work doesn’t hurt anyone.”

Since the days of hard work on the farm, a lot has changed for Gilham. A member of the Otwell Methodist Church since 1950, she lost her husband in 1976 but continued to live in the farm house built by her father-in-law in 1921 for a number of years. “My grandson and his family live there now,” she said. “After that I moved into an apartment and lived there for the last 16 years before moving here (Emerald House) just a few months ago.”

Gilham’s family has also grown to include four grandchildren, nine great grandchildren, and three great-great grandchildren.

Historically, many milestones have happened in the last century since Gilham was born.

Women gained the right to vote (1920). The Empire State Building was erected (1930). The Great Depression took its toll on the on the United States (1930).

Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play professional baseball (1945) and Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space (1961) among other things.

So what is Gilham’s secret to a long life? “I think God has helped me all these years. I’m blessed to have a of church friends, I try to eat right. I go to bed early and get up early,” she said.

Saturday, an open house celebrating Gilham’s birthday will take place from 2 until 4 p.m. at Emerald House. Gilham said that the event will be open to all her friends and family.

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