Friends fondly remember 111-year-old Mary Niceswanger

MARIETTA — She was known for her faith.

She was known for her kind heart and great memory.

But most more recently have known her for her accomplished age.

“I’ve been here six years and she’s been one of the oldest residents we’ve ever had,” said Kylee Walters, activities coordinator at Brookdale Senior Living Center in Marietta. “That would always stop people in their tracks when she’d tell them she was 111.”

Mary M. Niceswanger, 111, of Marietta passed away Jan. 25, after outliving not only her spouse but also her only daughter.

Those who knew her have shared nothing but love and admiration for the humble woman, noting Niceswanger would say she didn’t know why she lived so long, just that she must have had a divine purpose.

“My husband and I both called her ‘Mom Cook’ because she was the cook for his fraternity (Alpha Tau Omega) at Marietta College when they were at the Wakefield Hotel,” said Ann Hontz, of Marietta, who also knew Niceswanger from her first job in Marietta. “I met her 40 years ago with my first job with the Head Start program. She was one of the aides and then my husband and I reconnected with her three years ago.”

In the last three years Garry and Ann Hontz have shared a monthly meal with Nicewanger, taken her to vote and visited and learned of her history.

“I remember when I was in college and something bad would happen she would always say, ‘well, there’s always tomorrow, boys,'” mentioned Garry. “And I always remember she cooked with lard, which must have been good for her since she lived so long. And she made the best pies, cakes and cookies.”

Niceswanger’s minister from the Church of Christ on Sixth Street in Marietta also has fond memories.

“Mary was just really loved here by the congregation and her service Monday was very well attended,” said Minister Roger Rush. “She never made a fuss about her birthdays, she would tell me it was just another year. It wasn’t her age but her attitude that was outstanding and at 110 she really enjoyed pizza with extra sauce at (The Original Pizza Place).”

Walters said since Niceswanger moved to the nursing facility in December of 2016 she continued to be active in programming at the center.

“She just last week was still painting every Monday,” she said. “She had this cute little quirky high-pitched little voice and a really good sense of humor, too.”

Niceswanger lived from Aug. 6, 1906 to Jan. 25, 2018. She was the second oldest of 11 siblings who all preceded her in death. Niceswanger was married to Leonard Niceswanger from Nov. 26, 1933 until his death on Nov. 20, 1971. Their only daughter, Yvonne A. Barth, also preceded her in death on May 24, 2010.

“She said it must have been for a reason that she lived that long,” said Walters. “She was a celebrity but never wanted to be in the spotlight.”