Clarkston resident Mary Weiss realizes the irony of her life choices.
Growing up near Keuterville, she spent countless days “picking rocks” with her sisters and dreaming of a future that didn’t involve any field work.
“I was raised on a ranch,” Weiss said, “and the day I left, I swore I would never go back. What did I do? I got married and moved to Cloverland.”
Weiss, who turns 100 today, smiled as she shared memories of the past century. A life of “hard work” and “good luck” has kept her going strong. She still lives at home on her own, gets her hair done every Wednesday and has breakfast with her daughter, Linda Rossiter, at Hazel’s each morning.
“I never thought I’d live to be this old,” Weiss said. “I had some heart and thyroid problems, but I got over all that, and here I am. The Lord has been good to me.”
Most of her life was spent at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, first as a nurse in training, followed by 28 years on the surgical floor and another 35 years as a volunteer. She finally retired for good at the age of 95.
“Nursing is a lot different now,” Weiss said. “We used to wear white stockings, starched white uniforms and hats. We used to give back rubs to the people who were sick.”
At the time of her birth in 1919, most women had their babies at home. Weiss arrived Dec. 13, the fourth of six children born to John and Elizabeth Voskuhler.
She attended a one-room country school as a girl and graduated from St. Gertrude’s Academy with a high school diploma. From there, she went to St. Joe’s School of Nursing in Lewiston and earned the title of registered nurse.
Her childhood centered around working in the fields and attending church. She and her siblings walked to school and only got to see a movie once a year, typically on the Fourth of July.
“That was a real treat,” Weiss said.
A blind date led to her marriage to Robert Weiss on Dec. 28, 1943. The couple had four children and farmed at Cloverland until moving to Clarkston in the fall of 1956. Prior to his death in 1993, Robert worked for the city of Clarkston’s street department.
When the children were young, Weiss stayed home with them. She went back to nursing when the family moved to town.
“I’ve always worked hard,” Weiss said. “I raised four kids and had a husband and worked from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. for 28 years. I would sleep when the kids were at school and get up around 1 p.m.”
Rossiter, 72, said her mother was always on the go and did a lot of cooking and baking, often making doughnuts for the neighborhood kids.
“We didn’t go out to eat,” Rossiter said. “Families ate dinner together, and we played outside a lot. We would ride our bikes and pick apples. There were no electronics in those days.”
Up until a few months ago, Weiss was still driving her car. She gave it up after getting pnuemonia.
Now her days are spent with visits from her three living children and their offspring. She has four grandkids, three great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. She also enjoys watching game shows on television and her daily trip to Hazel’s.
She used to do a lot of fancy work, including several ornate Brazilian embroidery pieces framed on her living room walls. Weiss was a good seamstress and made many quilts over the years, her daughter said.
Her friends and family are throwing Weiss a birthday party from 1-3 p.m. Saturday at the Holy Family Parish Hall in Clarkston, followed by dinner at Rooster’s.
“When people ask about her, I always say, ‘My mother is in better shape than all of her kids put together,’ ” Rossiter said with a laugh. “Now that she’s turning 100, I’ve been telling her it’s better to be on the front page than the obituaries.”
Sandaine may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 848-2264. Follow her on Twitter @newsfromkerri.