MAPLEWOOD — Kate Clark, of Maplewood, will be celebrating her 100th birthday on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021.
Despite turning 100, when sharing about her life, Clark was assertive in directing what she wanted to talk about, and easily recalled many vivid memories from her past. When asked what is the secret to living to 100, she said she thinks it’s in her genes.
“I had aunts and uncles that lived to a good old age. Think it’s in my genes,” Clark declared. “And I get up every morning and have something to look forward to.”
Nell Bodenmiller describes her mother Kate as the matriarch of their family.
“(Mom) has always been independent and a strong woman for our family,” Bodenmiller said about her mother turning 100. “We are all really proud of her. She is a fighter; she has had some setbacks but is doing better.”
Clark was born on Sept. 4, 1921, to Vivian and Nellie Stewart in Massilon. Her family moved to Maplewood when she was 8 years old. She has resided in Maplewood ever since.
“My parents had four kids and they handmade everything. For Christmas I would get an orange, a piece of candy and one handmade thing, probably clothes, but it had to be useful,” Clark said of her childhood.
Clark knew since she was a little girl she wanted to be a nurse. She fulfilled that dream after high school when she finished nursing school at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati in 1942. At that time, Clark recalled tuition cost $75 per year. When she started nursing school in 1939, students wore blue uniforms and later changed to white after graduation. She then added a black ribbon onto her white cap, which signified she finished school.
Her first nursing job was at Wilson Health, formerly known as Wilson Memorial Hospital, in the OB division taking care of mothers and their babies. Clark explained how much healthcare has changed over the years from when she began working at the hospital, emergency room and nursing home. She also worked at Ohio Living Dorothy Love in Sidney.
In 1945, Kate married Frank Clark, also of Maplewood. They worked on a farm together and had five children together, Ginny (Tom) Lochard, Mike (Gail) Clark, Walt (Kim) Clark, Bonnie (Vic) Klingelhofer and Nell (Scott) Bodenmiller. She has 13 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.
“When I started out as a bride, during wartime, my husband came home and we had nothing. No plumbing. One bulb of electricity, nothing we had used electricity. We lived in the country,” Clark said. “Nowadays everyone thinks (in the beginning) they got to have a new house and all this new stuff. We had a wood stove that we used for cooking and it also warmed the house. We had no inside plumbing; had to use an outhouse. — And I was OK with that.”
She went on to explain that after a tragic accident in 1948 when her father and brother were killed in a tractor/train crash, she and her husband and their first child moved to her parents old farmhouse. She has lived in that same farmhouse near Maplewood for 73 years.
“I thought I was in heaven with a furnace inside. But there was milking of cows to do, and there was pigs,” Clark recalled.
She remembered how technology evolved from using horses as a girl to farm to the modern farm equipment of today. She also recalled the change in communication, when as a girl she said they used hand-cranked phones and party lines, that eventually transformed over the years into cellphones.
Clark spent her years as a wife, mother, registered nurse, community nurse, homemaker and active member of the Maplewood United Methodist Church. She was a member of the Maplewood Grange since she was 16, for a total of 85 years. She took great joy in nursing, raining her family, growing flowers, church and used to love to read.
“At 13 I accepted Jesus and never wavered from that,” Clark said, noting how important God and church has been in her life. “One thing about people today, they can’t commit these days. I commit to all things: committed to nursing, and God. That’s not something you find anymore.”
Bodenmiller said her mother has spent her lifetime giving to others and in celebration of her 100th birthday, the family would like to have a card shower for her and have an open house during her birthday weekend. The family welcomes short visits from family and friends starting Friday, Sept. 3, at 1 p.m. and into the evening throughout the weekend. Cards may be sent to her address, 21580 LeFevre Road, Maplewood, OH 45340.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.