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Marie Goodrich turns 102

Marie Goodrich may just be the oldest resident of Johnson County. Opening the front door of her home, Goodrich warmly welcomes the many visitors that stop by to offer her birthday wishes. Today, Marie Goodrich has reached the amazing age of 102.

Goodrich was born January 29, 1908 at her parents’ home on a farm near St. Ansgar, Iowa. The world was a very different place than it is today. She grew up with no electricity and no indoor plumbing. When telephones were introduced, Goodrich recalled that they were the old crank type of wall telephone. “Everyone always knew what everyone was doing,” said Goodrich, as several families would share one telephone line and number.

Marie Goodrich shared some of her memories on this 102nd birthday. She recalled that in 1918 she, her mother and her brother became sick with the flu that was sweeping across the world. The 1918 flu pandemic is often referred to as the Spanish flu. It primarily attacked young adults. Close to 50 million people worldwide died from this disease. Goodrich recalls that somehow her father did not become ill with the flu and took care of his family while they battled the illness.

Goodrich remembers the Great Depression well. Times were hard and jobs were scarce. She recalls seeing people from her hometown area standing in soup lines, even those who had been employed with sought-after county government jobs. Young girls coming from wealthy families had to drop out of school as their families suffered devastating financial losses.

Moving to a small town about the size of Mountain City, Goodrich and her brother started first grade. They were just 11 months apart and continued through school together. Goodrich, valedictorian of her class of 18 students, graduated from high school in 1926. Due to the economic crisis, Goodrich’s father was unable to help pay for her college education. A banker loaned Goodrich $900 for the first year of college. There was a caveat attached, however. She had to take out a life insurance policy for the amount of the loan. Both Marie and her brother helped each other during school so both of them could further their education. Goodrich went on to attend Iowa State, located in Ames, Iowa, receiving her degree in home economics. Goodrich taught for 23 years in Iowa, Omaha, Nebraska and Fort Myers, Florida.

Marie married in 1933. She recalls, “People thought we were crazy to get married during the depression.” She and her husband had two children. Married close to 56 years, the Goodriches had just moved to Mountain City a year before Marie’s husband passed away. Their daughter, Bonnie and her husband, Dale Carter, were already living in Johnson County. Marie has two children, eight grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. She is extremely proud of each and every one of them. Goodrich, with pride in her voice, stressed that all of her grandchildren are college graduates.
Marie Goodrich is an amazing woman. Although she is 102 years old, she stands straight, walks without assistance, drives and lives independently. “I have to be thankful I can at least walk,” shared Goodrich. She is bright, witty, intelligent and interested in the local news in Johnson County, as well as world affairs. Goodrich follows politics and reads the Johnson City Press on a daily basis. Goodrich is a fan of NBC, watching Brian Williams on NBC Nightly News. She has always voted, contributing her love of politics to her father. Goodrich is concerned for President Obama as he has so many problems to contend with. “I don’t know how he sleeps,” said Goodrich, “I pray for him every night.”
Goodrich fills her days crocheting afghans for family members and friends. She also crochets baby caps for Watauga Medical Center in Boone, North Carolina, as well as making lap afghans for people confined to wheelchairs. Goodrich claims that while computers fascinate her, she is computer illiterate. She gives a lot of credit to her great-grandchildren for their vast knowledge of computers.
While Marie Goodrich used to go walking, these days she doesn’t get as much exercise. She continues to do some light housework and cooks most of her meals. “My icebox is just full with stuff,” said Goodrich. She enjoys the baked goods that her daughter prepares for her.
Goodrich defies the typical image of a centenarian. She attributes her longevity to healthy eating. “You are what you eat,” added Goodrich. She taught her students to have a balanced diet of vegetables, fruits and very little red meat, and she herself adheres to those teachings. Goodrich enjoys amazingly good health, visiting her doctor just once a year.
Marie Goodrich spent her 102nd birthday receiving phone calls, flowers and visits from loved ones, friends and family. Her family seems to be as proud of her as she is of all of them.