Born in 1913, Athelia Marshall said the secret to a long life is a simple one: live each day at a time.
“Take each day as it comes and do whatever you can,” she said. “Live a good life and live it to the fullest.”
As Marshall prepares to celebrate her 101st birthday July 26, she looks back on all that she has seen in a life that began in Czar, Alta., a village in central Alberta.
The First World War was about to begin and Marshall would be a wife and mother by the time the Second World War began.
Married to Clark Marshall Nov. 11, 1932 in Nelson, Athelia and her husband lived in various places around the province, including Burton, Clark’s birth place.
In the late ‘40s, the couple owned and operated the Burton General Store and Cafe.
“There were a lot of truck drivers who came through to eat Mom’s pies — she was famous for them, especially her huckleberry pie” said her son, Stu.
The parents of Ken, Lorne, Barbara, Sandra, Stu and Roger moved to Vernon in 1951, where Clark managed Bennett’s Hardware Store for more than 20 years, retiring in 1979.
“There were tough times, especially during the Depression and money was pretty scarce, so we tried to raise all the food we could, preserving as much as we could,” said Athelia. “And we didn’t have modern conveniences — for laundry you had the old washboard, and you had to heat the water first.”
With six children, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Athelia always enjoyed baking, knitting and playing cards.
Athelia and Clark enjoyed getting together for a game of crib and a rye and 7Up before dinner.
Renowned for her home cooking, Athelia worked at the Vernon Army Camp in the ‘60s, where she put her skills to good use.
“When I think of Mom I think of her cooking. I would come home from school and be greeted with the smell of fresh bread and pie baking in the oven,” said Stu.
Athelia always maintained a large garden and in the ‘70s and ‘80s, she and Clark, who passed away in 2000, raised chickens at the family’s cabin in Burton.
A stroke three months ago only briefly slowed Athelia down, and while she isn’t able to enjoy all of the activities she once did, she has settled into her new home at Creekside Landing.
“She was paralyzed on the left side and in hospital and here she is today — the doctors and everyone else couldn’t figure out how this happened,” said Stu. “What I admire about Mom is her resolve. Her mom lived to 100 so we live a long time in my family.”
While granddaughter Sarah Marshall, 14, enjoys all of the conveniences of life as a student in the 21st century, her grandmother travelled to school in a horse and buggy.
“She has had such a long life and I enjoy hearing about what life was like when she was a young girl,” she said, adding that a treasured family memento is a cook book filled with her grandmother’s recipes compiled by her aunt Sandra — the family enjoys the chance to whip up Athelia’s famous peanut butter cookies, butterscotch cookies and oat cakes.
For Kelly, Athelia is a source of inspiration every day.
“She inspires me in the way that she perseveres — it seems like she doesn’t get tired or complain, she just does what she needs to do and gets on with it,” she said.