SIDNEY — Harriett Mann, of Sidney, celebrated her 100th birthday Friday, Jan. 24., at Shelby Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation with her family by her side.
“I feel pretty good,” Mann said during lunch with two of her three daughters the Monday prior to her birthday party at the nursing facility.
During the last century, Mann has lived though a lot, and not just technological advances, but several personal adversities as well.
She is woman a head of her time having worked several jobs outside of the home and having a driver’s license after losing two husbands early in life; both to a heart attack. Much of her modern ways derived from necessity in order to provide for her three daughters.
Her first husband Virgil Ambos passed away in 1952 when Mann was only 34 years old. The couple and their two girls were together on their front porch when Ambos was having a bad asthma attack that was so overwhelming he had a heart attack and died, daughter Judy Thompson said.
“It was awful,” Thompson recalled of the incident.
After her husband’s death, Mann first went to work at Montra’s community grocery store inspecting and grading eggs to be sold. Later she worked at a tomato canning plant in Jackson Center before meeting and marrying her second husband Cloyd “Skeet” Corn around 1958.
But in 1961, Corn also passed away from a heart attack. This once again left Mann the sole provider for herself and three daughters.
“We didn’t have anything,” Thompson said. “But we never knew it, because we had everything we needed.”
“Mom sewed made all of our clothes, and they were nice, and made suits too. — And thank goodness she could because we wouldn’t have had anything to wear,” daughter Beth Morris recalled.
Morris and Thompson said their mother used to cook the food grown in their garden outside of the small farm house they rented in the county in Montra. They recalled having chickens, pigs, cows, dogs and cats when they were young.
Mann still remembers paying $5 a month rent for that two bedroom farmhouse when her children were young.
At 41, Mann then went to work as the secretary for Jackson Center High School for several years until she retired.
“She used to run the school,” both Morris and Thompson said in agreement, with a chuckle, about their mother. They noted their mother was known for her no-nonsense approach of discipline.
Mann then met and married her third husband Luther Mann in 1966. The Manns celebrated 50 years of marriage and lived together for a few years at Shelby Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation until he passed away in 2019.
Together they share several children. Harriett has three daughters, 15 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren, four great-great-grandchildren, eight stepchildren, 15 stepgrandchildren, 21 stepgreat-grandchildren and four stepgreat-great-grandchildren.
“Mom always had parties. We always went on hayrides at holiday time and on Halloween she would be in the barn, like she was a witch and was stirring the kettle. And she would always have parties for the Junior Lutheran kids and she would make things — like when they would go down into the basement, she would have spider webs for them to walk through, and have a pot of noodles and tell them it was worms. She always did all that type of stuff,” Thompson said of how her mom would make the holidays special.
Her daughters said their mom was always cleaning, cooking, canning food or taking care of kids. She loves to play Bingo and to spend time with family. She also liked to sew, crochet and cross stitch.
“Mom always put out a big garden every year,” her youngest daughter Kim Mann said at her mom’s birthday party. “Her and I canned and she taught my kids how to garden. My oldest still carries it on. The grandkids always loved her toast. And they (Harriett and Luther) used to come with us when me and my husband would show horses.”
Thompson said, “Mom always worked hard and helped everybody. She worked in the church, sang in the choir and taught Sunday School at Grace Lutheran Church in Jackson Center. I’ve never seen her hands idle.”
When talking about their mother’s life at her party, all three daughters were a little emotional. Leading up to her birthday party Friday, her daughters said she had been very excited all week about the big day. Harriett may have been a little overwhelmed, Morris said, because she took a nap during the first part of her party with close to 20 family members present.
With tears in her eyes, Kim said, “She has had a very full life.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.