Local woman to celebrate 100th birthday Saturday
And as if reaching that milestone isn’t extraordinary on its own, Argyelean still manages to maintain an independent lifestyle.
“She still drives, does her own hair and laundry, takes care of herself and is very, very active,” said Amber Barry, wife of Argyelean’s grandson, John. “Up until her mid-80s, she was still doing clog dancing and square dancing. I’m amazed by her.”
Standing a few inches short of five feet tall, Argyelean is called “Little Grandma” by her great-grandchildren…all 11 of them. And family members describe her as “spunky, very strong and lively.”
“She doesn’t let too much get her down. She has a very positive attitude,” said MaryJane Barry, one of her two children. “I think it’s amazing [that she’s soon to be 100 years old.]”
Argyelean, widowed, is also mother to Donald Thorp. She has four surviving grandchildren, as well.
So, to what does Argyelean attribute her long life? For starters, she’s abstained from drinking alcohol and never smoked. “And I believe in angels. I have [angel statues] in every room. I think that has helped, too. I also have good genes; I lucked out on genes,” she said.
Argyelean’s early years were spent on the family farm in Standish, along with a sister and two brothers who’ve all since passed away. Another sister died in early 1917, a few months before Argyelean was born. And though their father, Earl Raymond, was just 58 when he died, their mother, Delphine, lived to 91, passing away in 1986.
Looking back on the past century, Argyelean said she feels blessed to have experienced a vast number of technological advancements throughout her life. “So many things have come about, from the horse and buggy days and kerosene lamps, to [the discovery of] electricity…and everything is so much faster these days with the computer and other technology.”
Tuesday mornings, Argyelean is a regular at the Richardson Center in Commerce Township where she joins friends to crochet, quilt and enjoy other crafts. She is also involved in her church and, every Christmas, knits mittens for each of her great-grandchildren. Argyelean is also writing her life’s story, sending it section by section to family members.
And with that life story comes a message about what she says truly matters.
“What is most important is health, not money. You can have lots of money, but it’s not going to help if you don’t have your health,” she said.
She’s also a strong believer in the words of the Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
“And just to walk the strong and narrow path,” she said.
Family members and friends will gather on Argyelean’s birthday to celebrate her 100 years. “Lots of surprises are planned,” Barry said. First and Main, a senior living facility with communities across Michigan and Ohio, have planned the birthday celebration in partnership with Argyelean’s friends and family.
The day’s honoree, however, said “everybody is making such a fuss about this birthday, but you just go forward.”
As for her birthday wish, Argyelean is keeping it simple: “I want my children to live a long and healthy life. And no more wars or that sort of thing. Just peace.”