MARIETTA - It's hard to imagine that Mary Niceswanger of Marietta is 106 years old.
"I just can't believe it myself," Niceswanger marveled.
She also does not believe the fuss being made about her Aug. 2 birthday.
Photo by Sharon Bopp
Lillie Varner of Marietta, 75, admires a quilt made by her friend Mary Niceswanger of Marietta, 106, Tuesday.
"I'm just a little old country girl," she said.
One of 11 children born on a 400-acre farm in Morgan County in 1906, Niceswanger's mother gave birth to her in a log cabin on the property. The cabin had oil lights and no indoor plumbing.
When the family got its first radio, "You had to put things over your ears to hear it," she noted. "Dad was the only one who got any good out of it."
Born Aug. 2, 1906 in a log cabin in Morgan County, one of 11 children.
Married to Leonard Niceswanger.
Worked as a cook at Marietta College's ATO fraternity house and Chi Omega sorority house; before retiring at age 71, was a teacher's helper at Head Start in Marietta.
Longtime member of Marietta's Church of Christ at Sixth and Washington streets.
Hobbies: Sewing, quilting, attending church activities.
Niceswanger, who didn't take her first plane ride until she was in her 90s, is in awe of today's cell phones.
"I think they are the most amazing things ever. They blow my mind, that you can just walk down the street and talk," she said.
Before settling into marriage, Niceswanger enjoyed dating.
"I liked to date different boys," she said. "I was playing the field."
After she married her late husband, Leonard, they moved to Marietta where Leonard worked at Marietta Concrete. Later, he was an insurance salesman for Western Southern Insurance until his retirement.
"He was a true, blue man, a good man," Niceswanger noted.
Yvonne, the Niceswangers' only child, now deceased, was a Marietta resident and registered nurse. Niceswanger has two grandsons and two great granddaughters.
Niceswanger worked several jobs in the Marietta area until she retired at age 71. She was a cook for many years at the ATO fraternity house, at the site of the old Wakefield Hotel.
"We'd get the meal over with and some boys would come in and say 'What's left, Mom?" Niceswanger noted. "I told them their legs were hollow."
Later, she served as a cook at Chi Omega sorority house adjacent to the Marietta College campus.
Niceswanger said she was more like a mother to many of these young students.
"If they wanted buttons sewn on, they came to me," she said. "They'd come to me with their troubles."
When Niceswanger retired, she had been a teacher's helper at Head Start in Marietta for four years. She worked with 25 to 30 children each day, teaching them manners and how to count.
"What you would do through the day was undone at night," said Niceswanger. "Their home life was just so pitiful."
Friend Lillie Varner of Marietta, 75, said she admires Niceswanger's positive attitude.
"She's always upbeat, and she's very warm and caring," said Varner.
Today, Niceswanger enjoys sewing, quilting and church activities.
A longtime member of Church of Christ at Sixth and Washington streets in Marietta, Niceswanger credits much of her longevity to her spirituality.
"I believe in God, and I rely on God," she said.
"She's a very spiritual woman," said her minister, Roger Rush. "She never misses an assembly. She's here three times a week."
"If I'm able, I'm at church," Niceswanger noted.
Niceswanger said she doesn't give much thought to how long she's lived.
"I just do what I can and try to be the best person I can be," she said.