Iola woman celebrates 100th



January 20, 2016 - 12:00 AM

Margaret Evans celebrated her 100th birthday in style Sunday, with a small get-together, counting roughly 24 relatives and other close friends.
“I couldn’t invite everybody from church because I know I’d miss or forget somebody,” and didn’t want any hard feelings, she admitted sheepishly. The event was nice, she added, with one noteworthy byproduct.
“I don’t know where to put all the flowers.”
On every available place in her room at Windsor Place in Iola are brightly colored floral displays, making for a nice contrast to winter skies.
Evans was born Jan. 17, 1916, in Collinsville, Okla., on the outskirts of Tulsa. The family moved to Iola shortly after she was born.
The emerging gas boom days of the early 20th century put the Griffith family in southeast Kansas. Her father, John Griffith Sr., was a carpenter and found plenty of business building homes in Iola, Gas and Burlington.
After school, Margaret worked as a secretary to Iola banker Thomas H. Bowlus for a few years, before a hankering to get involved in politics of some sort convinced her to move to Washington, D.C., to work briefly for the Department of Labor.
A twist of fate led Margaret to the man who would become her husband.
She had another suitor, she said, who played junior college basketball in Parsons. On a trip back home to see him, she discovered he had gotten married.
Though a personal setback, she nevertheless was determined to make the best of her trip back home.
In fact, “it couldn’t have worked out better for me,” she said.
Shortly thereafter, she met Irvin Evans, brother of long-time Allen Community College basketball coach Mickey Evans.
The pair were married in 1943.
Irvin Evans was a contractor, but the couple became best known as owners of Iola Glass for several years. (As an aside, Irvin Evans built the old 54 Drive-In in Gas.)
They had two sons, Steven, who recently retired as a certified public accountant in Overland Park, and Scott, an accountant in Austin, Texas.
Irvin died in 1989.
Before moving to Windsor Place from her house on North Second Street, Evans had several hobbies, including playing the piano, riding her bicycle and stenography.
“I still can write shorthand if I want to,” she boasts.
Margaret attended First Christian Church in Iola for several years and today enjoys the nursing home’s Sunday morning worship services.
Any words of wisdom or tips on making it to 100?
“Nope,” she chuckled. “I’m not sure how many would want to make it this far.”

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