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Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Mercer County gains another centenarian

By Betty Lawrence
Mercer County's latest centenarian is Alma Retta Crouch (family and friends know her as Retta Crouch) of Celina, who is observing her 100th birthday today.
She was born June 25, 1908, in an old cabin on Pine Road, near Wabash, she said. She is the daughter of Frank and Eleanora Cole.
The cabin is long gone, but Retta, like the Energizer Bunny, just keeps on going. Her eyes twinkled and she smiled warmly when her daughters revealed they have a hard time slowing her down.
"Mom's always wanting to do something. She is not one to just sit for very long," Evie Crouch said in a recent interview in Retta's comfortable Celina home.
"It doesn't seem like I'm 100. I don't feel like it," Retta said smiling. "They (her children) give me heck, but I have to do something."
Longevity runs in the Crouch family, she says. Her sister died at the tender age of 99 and there presently are seven five-generation families in her family tree.
Retta was married to Arlie Crouch in 1928, and he preceded her in death in 1979. The couple has three daughters, Betty and Ruth, with whom she makes her home; Evie of Celina; and a son, Melvin, also of Celina. One son is deceased.
Betty Crouch, reading from a written list, noted that her mother also has eight grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, 13 great-great-grandchildren, three stepgrandchildren, 10 stepgreat-grandchildren and 11 stepgreat-great-grandchildren.
Retta feels she has been fortunate to have good health.
"When she does have an illness, she always just pops right back," Evie said. "She's amazing."
When she's not trying to dust furniture or do dishes, Retta can be found doing word search puzzles and watching television. She likes to keep up on the news, her daughters say.
"I went to school in a one-room schoolhouse at Wabash and I wanted to be a nurse, but my parents needed me at home," she said.
She remembers "the good old days" of horse and buggy, doing the laundry on a scrub board before her wringer washer, her first automobile, her first television set and, of course, the novelty of indoor plumbing.
"Dad sold the horse and buggy when he got a car. We used to drive a Model T but when we went to a Model A, I quit driving," Retta said.
Her father was always walking, she remembers, from Wabash into town (Celina).
"It's quite a ways, but he always had luck and someone would pick him up," she recalled.
When the state came in and took out the trees in front of Retta's home in the 1950s, it paid for the indoor plumbing, she added.
"Both Mom and Dad were hard workers," her daughter Ruth said. "Mom always had a big garden and we canned a lot and wallpapered."
"Mom has always kept active and has always been spry," her daughter Evie added. "She's always had a positive attitude and I think that's what helps keep her going today,"
Her family has planned a birthday celebration this weekend in Celina with 60-plus family members planning to attend.
"God's been good to me," Retta said. "I just don't like to sit down. That's no fun."
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