Lenore Smith celebrates 100th 2009.02.25

Written by David Green.


Still living alone at age 100 in good health, enjoying her apartment, visiting with good friends. What more could you ask for?

Lenore Smith isn’t asking for anything more. She’s just enjoying the century mark that she’s celebrating today at York Hills.lenore.smith.jpg

“I really have had a good life,” she said.

Someone stops in twice a week to help her with a few things and twice a month she has some assistance with cleaning the apartment.

“Other than that, I do everything for myself,” she said.

Lenore suffers from hearing loss and she claims that her memory isn’t so sharp, although you would never guess that from listening to her stories.

And when the doctor makes his visit to the York Hills senior complex, he never has much work to do in Lenore’s apartment.

“He can’t find a darn thing wrong with me,” she said. “He never can.”

Lenore’s long life started on Feb. 25, 1909 on a farm near Swanton, Ohio. She was the eighth of nine children.

When she was a senior in high school, she began working in a bakery in Swanton.

“I’d go to the bakery as soon as school was out and work until about 5:30,” she said. “I’d go home for supper, then go back to work until it closed at 8.”

The job paid $5 a week, which meant a lot to a girl from a poor family in the 1920s.

A surprise awaited Lenore when she graduated from high school. That’s when her father put her on a train bound for Dunkirk, N.Y.

An older brother got a job with Woolworth Company following World War I and worked himself up to a managerial position. When she arrived, she learned that her brother had signed her up for business school.

“I had nothing to do with it,” she said, “but it was a godsend.”

The three-month course taught her typing, composition, shorthand—everything she needed to know to work in an office.

When she came back home, a friend suggested that she apply for a job with DeVilbiss and she got the job.

A girlfriend asked her to join in on a double date, but an unexpected turn of events came about. They stopped at a little barbecue sandwich hut and her girlfriend’s date asked Lenore out for the next weekend.

“I never had another fellow,” she said about Merrill Smith. “He was prefect.”

They were married just as the Great Depression arrived and had to move in with Merrill’s parents.

Eventually her husband found a job in Toledo and they began renting a home for $12 a month. They eventually bought the house and lived there for many years.

Lenore sold the house after her husband’s death. She lived in Albuquerque near one of her daughters and later moved to Florida to join other family members.

When a granddaughter suggested that Lenore move to Morenci, she accepted the invitation and has been here for about 10 years.

She enjoys her apartment at York Hills—“I don’t think you could find a better place”—and her only regret is not being able to drive anymore.

“If I just had my car and could go,” she said. “I used to drive all over.”

Lenore said she never expected to live a hundred years, but then again, she had a hint of what might lie ahead from her mother, who died just a couple months short of a century.

“You know,” she said, “that’s a lot of years.”

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