Celebrating Our Centenarians

Celebrating Our Centenarians

Reflections on a century of life, a lifetime of memories.


Park Meadows Senior Living
Overland Park, Kan.

What is your first and most vivid memory?

My first memory is of my mother; of her holding me and of her always being there for me.

What are the most important lessons you feel you have learned through your life?

Patience and understanding: Practicing these will make your life a little easier.

Did you have any heroes or role models when you were a child?

My brother was my hero. I watched him so closely … he could do things I could not do because I was too young, like ride the pony we had.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up on a farm outside Blackburn, Mo. My father was a farmer. I was the second youngest with one brother and four sisters.

Did you have a profession?

I was a teacher at a country school. The schoolhouse had a potbelly stove that had to be stoked with coal every day. My father would help me put coal in the stove because he did not want me to do that chore by myself. That was such a big help to me.

What has been the most eventful experience in your life?

The most eventful time in my life was my marriage to my husband in St. Louis on December 24, 1955. We met while we were both teaching at the same school in St. Louis.

What piece of advice or words of wisdom would you give others?

The best advice I can give others is to eat carefully and make good food choices.


The Homestead at Hickory View Retirement Community
Washington, Mo.

What are the major values or principles that you live by?

Be good to everyone. Have a good attitude every day. Play at life. Roll with it. Try to not worry about anything: If it is going to happen, it’s going to happen.

What are some of your greatest memories?Helen Pierce

I traveled often. My favorite trip was to Germany and Vienna. My grandparents took me to the zoo often, and my aunt took me to Turner school, a gym place to play and exercise. I went to Camp Solitaire, in Eureka, with dancing every weekend. We went swimming in the Merrimack with my husband and friends often. I just had such a good life.

What’s the secret to a happy marriage?

If your husband likes to do something, do it with him. My husband and I both liked the same things. We played at being married. We square danced for 47 years, two or three times a week. He passed away over 11 years ago.

We married in 1942, just as the war came along, but he did not have to serve. We lived on Laclede Station Road, third floor, in St. Louis. Our wardrobe and refrigerator were in the hallway, and we shared a bathroom with other tenants. Every morning at 1 a.m., a streetcar would come by, making a loud noise as it blew its horn.

What big world events do you remember from the time you were growing up?

Landing on the moon. I remember being in a swimming pool at nighttime and looking up at the sky and thinking how incredible a man could be on that moon.

What inventions do you most remember?

Television. Our friends were the first to get one, and we all gathered at their house to watch it. Our son was 11 years old at the time. We didn’t purchase one until he was in college, and I remember watching Elvis Presley on it first.

What’s different about growing up today from when you were growing up?

Safety was not a concern when I was growing up. I was never afraid to be alone while my husband traveled; now I would be. When I was only 11 years old I would take the streetcar to Busch Brewery, to the country, and to school, but I wouldn’t do that today.

What have been the most influential experiences in your life?

I looked for a job after high school, and worked at Pope’s Cafeteria. The owner’s son opened a new restaurant, and I went to work for him until I saw the sun go down every evening while at work. I knew it wasn’t for me, it wasn’t worth it. So, I went back to Pope’s Cafeteria. I made 10 cents an hour, and in 1939 that went to 15 cents an hour. Then it was 25 cents when I became a manager. I never liked to cook, so I brought dinner home every night for 25 cents.

What do you enjoy today? What keeps you vibrant?

I drink one glass of wine and eat cheese every day. My hobby is to read. I read about 20 books every month.

2 Comments on “Celebrating Our Centenarians”

  1. Esther Doyle was my 7th grade English and history teacher and her husband, John, was my 10th grade English teacher. I knew that Esther and John were married on Christmas Eve in the chapel of our Methodist church in St Louis, and I always thought that sounded so romantic. The Doyles were a dignified and lovely couple, very much respected, and they set high standards for their students. Some memories of my 7th grade year with Mrs. Doyle include a classical poetry unit, detailed study of the constitution and the colonial period, learning study skills and how to make an outline, weekly vocabulary words which served me well s few years later in taking the SATs, and a delightful class production of A Christmaz Carol.

    Mrs Doyle as s teacher was beautifully and tastefully dressed and groomed, and I can see that she is as lovely as ever. I so enjoyed reading about her warm childhood memories of growing up in rural Missouri and her sense of being a loved and cherished child.

    There are always a few teachers who serve as special role models and inspire students to do their best. My friends and I valued Mrs. Doyle’s good opinion of us and never wanted to disappoint her. Such a lovely and kind lady with memories of a life well lived!

    1. Barbara,
      Thank you for your nice words. We will be sure to pass these on.
      Samantha McCue
      Marketing Director

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