Living long mostly luck says 100 year-old birthday girl

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If there is a recipe for a long and happy life, Marjorie Alderman has the ingredients.

The much-loved Petrolia resident, born 100 years ago February 19, says “luck” is the main reason she has lived for a century.

But her three sons don’t think so. David, John and Ross Alderman all attribute their mom’s longevity to her determined spirit, lively mind and sense of humour.

More than 200 people turned out at the Inwood fire hall Saturday to pay homage to the birthday girl. The farm where she was born is only a few miles away.

“She’s a true family matriarch,” said son John, nodding towards the long lineup that snaked out the door.

“I think the turnout speaks for itself.”

Marjorie was a woman who coloured outside the lines. She boarded in Glencoe to attend high school at age 14. She passed her driver’s license the same year and drove for 85 years, before voluntarily turning it in last year.

Marjorie Gentleman married husband Maurice on Sept. 18, 1940. Both were Inwood area farm kids and knew each from growing up in the community. The couple had their first son David in 1941. John came along in 1946 and Ross arrived in 1949.

Marjorie had trained as a nurse in London prior to her marriage and stayed in the workforce after, employed at hospitals in both Petrolia and Sarnia.

She was a ‘working mom’ long before the practice was widespread.

“It was a day escape from the farm,” said her son David, a retired local farmer. “And she got paid for it.”

Marjorie’s training in healthcare played a key role in her own good health, said son Ross of Halifax.

“Being a nurse, she made sure she looked after herself with nutrition.”

Her compassion for others is another deciding factor, Ross said. After she retired, Marjorie volunteered in palliative care, staying with those who were dying.
A life-long reader, though now mostly listening to audio books, Marjorie still continues to challenge her mind. She does crosswords and Sudoko puzzles every day before noon.

“I guess I better get out the Scrabble board,” joked 75-year-old David. He remembers his mother playing the game 50 years ago.

His mother was fearless, he added. When she visited the Grand Canyon on her 80th birthday, she talked of bungy jump, but said she couldn’t as it was raining.

After 40 years on the home farm, Marjorie moved to a house in Alvinston. With the help of neighbours and grandchildren, she lived there for 20 years on her own. She moved into Fiddick’s Nursing Home last year.

A “tremendous inspiration and role model” is how her son John describes his mother.

The Stratford-area resident said his mother is a wise woman. Her remembers her telling him he should always behave himself “because you never know who you are going to run into.”

She’s not a gossip either, he said, a fact endearing her to many.

“She shares only when you ask her.”

Marjorie’s large extended family includes eight grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.

Pam Wright/Special to The Independent

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