July 8, 2013

Plattsburgh woman celebrates century mark

By AMY HEGGEN, Contributing Writer

PLATTSBURGH — Margaret Wells began her day with a limousine ride to mass at St. John’s Church in Plattsburgh, where she then celebrated turning 100 years old with family and friends.

“I never expected anything like this,” Wells said of her birthday party Sunday. The Plattsburgh woman’s actual birthday is today.

“People were coming in and visiting, and all too happy to see I was well,” Wells said. “I’m so thankful that I was well enough to be here today.”

Just two weeks ago, Wells had pneumonia, but she has recovered.

“Just take one day at a time,” she said. “Prayers will help.”

She still lives by herself and was driving around up until a month ago.

“I’m so thankful that I can get around and live by myself,” Wells said.

Wells also said she’s thankful that she hasn’t lived in a nursing home.

“I don’t feel a bit over 70 or 80,” she said.

Her four surviving children — Victor Wells, Peggy Banker, Marceline Kavanagh and Lillian Cook — all came to the celebration, as well as grandchildren and a nephew from Saranac Lake. Family came from as far away as New Mexico and Florida for her birthday, she said.

Wells also has great-grandchildren and a 1-year-old great-great-grandchild.

She has survived all ten of her siblings and her husband, Earl P. Wells.

“You have to take a lot in stride,” Wells said.

She married Earl in 1929 when she was 16 years old. Although he died in 1977, he’s still her sweetheart.

“I’m a little loner in the world but I’ve got the good Lord with me,” Wells said. “If you’ve got God in your life, you’re all set.”

Wells likes to keep up on news and everything going on around her, and that helps to keep her feeling young. She said it’s important to take the good with the bad.

Wells said she respects everybody, no matter their race or religion.

“There is one God for everybody and he’s always there to help,” she said. “I’ve always looked to God for help.”

Wells lost one son to a heart attack a year ago while he was en route to Plattsburgh for a visit.

“It’s hard to lose someone,” she said. “You just have to do the best you can.”

Her advice is never go to bed angry.

“Just be happy because you never know what the next day will bring,” Wells said.

Wells grew up in Saranac and has lived in Plattsburgh since 1980. She worked for 23 years as a nurse’s aid in the Samuel F. Vilas Home in Plattsburgh, until she was 83.

Her father was a farmer, but farming wasn’t her cup of tea, she said.

“People don’t realize what country life is,” she said. “I never liked farming.”

Wells’s mother died when she was 5 years old, but she remembers her mother like it was yesterday, she said.

Wells recalls tugging on her mom’s skirt asking for pie dough while her mother cooked in the kitchen.

She also remembers traveling to church in a horse-drawn coach with lanterns, which her father had rented.

Growing up in the country, Wells attended three one-room school houses.

“You didn’t fiddle around. You learned,” Wells said.

“I’m just an ordinary person,” she said. “I’ve had a good life. I’d do it again.”