A crowd of family, friends and other well-wishers gathered to honor Margaret Grant’s 100th birthday Tuesday at Windsor Place.
Grant, in turn, celebrated those who came.
“I am happy to have this day,” Grant said. “I am blessed to have so many friends and relatives.”
The crowd gathered to serenade Iola’s newest centenarian, hear her make a few comments about her life, and then cheer Grant along as she prepared to blow out her birthday candle.
What did she wish for?
“If told you, you wouldn’t believe it,” she joked.
On hand for the celebration were Grant’s three sons, Jerry, Wiley and Kenneth, as well as several grandchildren, nieces, nephews were joined by several Windsor Place residents and staff for the occasion.
MARY MARGARET Gallop was born Oct. 10, 1917, in Altamont. She joined three older brothers and one older sister.
Her parents, William W. and Margaret Gallop, moved the family to Nowata, Okla., when she was young.
She thrived in school, skipping first grade entirely and later being named salutatorian for her high school class.
Margaret attended Wichita University, where she earned a teaching certificate. A year later, she was in Medicine Lodge, teaching kindergarten and music for grades 3-8.
She married Paul W. Grant in June 1937. Paul’s job with the U.S. Soil Conservation Service took the Grants to several places across New Mexico and Arizona.
They moved to Kansas in 1942, then to Gas in 1945 on a small farm.
By the late 1950s, Margaret had resumed her teaching career, first in Savonburg, then at Zillah School in rural Humboldt and finally Humboldt Elementary School as a fourth-grade teacher.
Margaret took night classes while she taught, eventually earning her master’s degree at Emporia State in 1974. She taught several more years before retiring in the 1980s.
Margaret remained active with the Iola Current Events Club and was active in her church and with the Allen County Historical Society.
She also mentored several people with reading disabilities, teaching some to read for the first time.
She moved to Iola in 2003, and lived alone until 2014, when she moved to Windsor Place.
Margaret grew wistful in the celebration. Celebrating your 100th birthday won’t come around again, she joked.
“Somehow I made it,” she said. “It seemed like every time I needed help, somebody offered. I owe a lot to my family and friends.”
With that, Margaret set her sights on the small candle.
Her first try was from too far away, barely causing the flame to flicker.
Undaunted, she leaned closer, pursed her lips and shot out a quick breath.
In a flash, the flame was gone.
The audience cheered.