They grew up and went to school together in Belfast for a time, and on Tuesday, Mary Margaret (Brown) West and Helen (Chenoweth) Sprinkle celebrated their 102nd and 100th birthdays, respectively, back together again.
Their families overlap, they both can walk on their own, and they both said they never thought much about reaching their current age.
“I never thought about it,” West said. You don’t sit around thinking about how old you’re going to be, you get out and do something useful.”
Sprinkle, who turned 100 Tuesday, said, “No, but I was always healthy so I didn’t think too much about it.”
West, who will turn 102 on June 15, credited her long life to good living. “I never smoked or drank,” she said.
Sprinkle said she ate right, still drinks about a gallon of milk a week, and “just tended to mind my own business.”
Sprinkle still lives on her own, while West currently resides at Bell Gardens Assisted Living in Hillsboro, where the celebration was held. It was originally scheduled for West, and Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings prepared a proclamation in honor of the occasion, then was surprised to learn Sprinkle was also in attendance.
“It’s unfair that a 100-year-old gets shown up on her birthday by a 102-year-old. That is not fair,” Hastings joked.
Sprinkle was born June 12, 1918 in Jackson County, the daughter of William and Ina Chenoweth. She lived for a while on a farm in the Belfast area, which she said she loved, and where the family milked cows. She also lived in Greenfield and graduated from Hillsboro High School in 1937.
Her first husband, Russell Walker, was from the Sugartree Ridge area and died in World War II. Her second husband was Donald Sprinkle, who passed away in 1994, around a week before West’s husband, Joe West, died.
Donald Sprinkle worked at the old Sohio station in Hillsboro where St. Mary Catholic Church now stands, and also farmed. He and Helen traveled a lot, and family members said Donald once cut the back end off a funeral home hearse and turned it into a camper.
Helen Sprinkle worked for Hillsboro dentist Roy Rogers at one time. She loves to read, has won quilt-making awards including one for a hand-stitched quilt last year, likes history, and plays cards with family members every Tuesday.
Helen had three daughters, Sandra Ferrell, a retired nurse who lives in Hillsboro; Linda Sprinkle, a retired teacher who lives in Hillsboro; and Kathy Sprinkle, a counselor/therapist who lives in Cincinnati.
As for her future plans, Helen said she wants to “have one more birthday.”
West was born on a farm on June 15, 1916, the youngest of five children of Thomas and Leota (Wisecup) Brown. A history provided by the family says she was born and raised in Hillsboro, but family said she also attended school for a time in Belfast with Sprinkle, although she was a couple years older. West graduated from Hillsboro High School in 1934.
As a youngster she was active in the Church of Christ, Girl Scouts, always had a pet cat, and was musically gifted. She played piano, violin and trombone, and later in life the organ. She worked in a local seed storing during her high school days, babysat, played basketball and swam.
On Sept. 19, 1949 she married Joseph Phillip West. They honeymooned at the Chicago World’s Fair then moved to the West family farm.
“The people of the community marveled at how well she mastered the life of a rural homemaker, sewing, canning (until freezers came along), caring for a flock of chickens, cooking for farmhands, and also working as a farmhand herself,” according to the family information.
She and Joe had two children, Joe West and Marilyn Pence.
Mary Margaret was in the Women’s Society of Christian Service, taught Sunday school and Bible school and was a member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. She was also involved in the White Shrine of Jerusalem, Eastern Star, Farm Bureau, DAR, Highland County Senior Citizens, was a volunteer at Highland District Hospital and worked extensively tracing her family’s roots.
Mary and Joe often housed people in need who were not members of their family, traveled all 50 states and several countries, and spent winters in Florida and Arizona.
She lived on her own in Hillsboro until recently.
Also on hand for Monday’s celebration were former Hillsboro school teacher Josephine (Karnes) Hadley Harner, who is approaching her 97th birthday, and Ellen Doebele, who will turn 95 on Oct. 17 and whose father, Karl, was a four-term Hillsboro mayor.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or [email protected]