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Cape woman celebrates 102nd birthday

By Staff | Oct 7, 2015

Margaret Brown still walks about half a mile a day, rides her fitness bike for 20 minutes a day and is still sharp as a tack, able to remember moments from her life with the clarity as if it happened yesterday.

Monday, friends and family gathered at her son’s house in Cape Coral where she lives to celebrate her 102nd birthday.

“I’m just so thankful that I’m able at 102 to get up and walk around and know what I’m doing. I can remember things from way back in the 1910s.”

Brown was born in 1913 in Philadelphia and lived nearby there for almost her entire life before coming to Cape Coral two years ago along with her husband, who died in July at age 99 after 71 years of marriage.

“My mother died when I was 3 years old and my sister was a week old. In those days there were no antibiotics. My mother got a disease when my sister was born Caesarian,” Brown said. “The hospital wasn’t too clean.”

Brown went to live with her grandmother in Eddystone, a Philadelphia suburb, where she remembered an ammo plant exploded during World War I.

Brown said it was a different world back then.

“I remember we had no indoor plumbing. My husband was the youngest in his family and he had three older sisters. They had a tub in the kitchen and that’s where they took a bath on Saturday,” Brown said. “He got the water when the girls got done.”

Brown graduated from high school in 1931 and there was no money to send her to college, so she got a job at the house of the head of the science department at West Chester Teacher’s College.

“I started to teach fourth grade until I retired when the boys were born,” Brown said. “I didn’t want anything to interfere with them. I became a substitute so I can learn a little money.”

Brown has two sons, Bob and Bruce. Margaret lives with Bob, while Bruce lives in Wisconsin and comes down to help take care of his mother when Bob goes on vacation.

Bob, 68, said he isn’t surprised his mother is going so strong. His parents lived with him for 34 years.

“They have been very active. They lived in the top floor of a three-story home up north with us and walked the steps several times a day,” Bob said. “They moved here in the nick of time.”

Brown celebrated her 100th birthday a week after she moved to town from Ridley Township two years ago.

Christina Blair, Bob’s fianc, said Margaret is the kind of a person who doesn’t utter a disparaging word about anyone.

“She finds the good in everyone. Mornings are tough for her, but she wakes up with a smile,” Blair said. “She’s seen a lot in her life, but she has come to peace with that and she’s going to enjoy the rest of her life.”

Kimberly Brown, granddaughter, said she is grateful to have had her in her life.

“She is such an amazing woman. She so strong and has taught me a lot about life and how to be a good person and appreciate what you have and who you are,” Kimberly said. “It’s amazing hearing stories about when she was a kid. It’s amazing to realize what’s she’s been through like the wars and the depression.”

Brown credits her longevity to not worrying about things and her faith.

“I believe that God hears my prayers and I don’t ask for everything because God needs some hands on this earth to do what he wants to do,” Brown said.

She also keeps herself in shape, using her walker to walk to the end of the street and back before taking a 20-minute ride on a stationary bike and walking around the house, though she has taken a few tough falls over the past year.

“We’re blessed that she’s in as good of shape as she is. Her mind’s sharp,” Bob said. “But the biggest thing is she gets out of bed every day. If you sit down, you’re going to die. Staying active is the reason she’s been here so long. She’s my hero.”