Resident celebrates 100th year
As Josephine McFarland blew out her birthday candles at the Tonganoxie Nursing Center, someone told her she still looked like she was 65.
"I wish I was 65," McFarland said, generating laughter from many of the people who attended her party. "Am I really that old?"
It may have been hard to believe, but McFarland turned 100 on Sept. 19. About 50 people attended her party, which featured cake, cookies and punch for the guests.
After the party, McFarland remarkably was able to make her own way down the hall with a walker. Asked what her secret to longevity was, McFarland generated a rather quick response.
"I've just tried to be happy every day," McFarland said.
Nancy Pearce and Judy Erwin, McFarland's two "nieces," organized the party. The sisters aren't blood relatives of McFarland, but their families were close. Pearce and Erwin's parents, John and Emma Taylor, were friends of McFarland's. Pearce, 68, recalled going to McFarland's house as a young girl in the 1950s.
"They'd have card nights and just socialize," Pearce said. "No one socializes like that anymore. I remember my mom and dad sitting at the table for hours. The kids would all fall asleep, then they'd carry us out and go home."
McFarland's health resume is as impressive as how long she's lived. She had never undergone any major procedures until she was in her 90s. McFarland had breast cancer for six years, but underwent surgery and radiation therapy with no problems. Then, two years ago at age 98, she had her gall bladder removed.
McFarland had been so healthy she was able to drive a car until she was 91.
"I think her main deal is that she wanted to stay away from doctors," Erwin said, laughing. "She hadn't been to the doctor much."
And she's still active. For instance, Pearce said for McFarland's birthday, she was going to take her to her farm, which is about seven miles west of Tonganoxie, on the way to Lawrence.
"When I take her in my car she can get in and out of my car, and I have a Toyota Highlander," Pearce said. "For her birthday, I'm going to bring her to the farm and let her see the flowers."
McFarland was born Sept. 17, 1907, in Peculiar, Mo. She lived in Kansas City, Kan., until 1963. McFarland was a receptionist at St. Margaret Hospital until she retired.
McFarland lived in Tonganoxie from 1982 to 1992. When her husband, Harold, died in 1992, McFarland moved to Trimble, Mo., to be close to her nephew, John Saul, of Edgerton, Mo.
McFarland moved back to Tonganoxie in 2002 and has lived in the Tonganoxie Nursing Center ever since. Pearce and Erwin have been assisting McFarland.
McFarland and her husband, Harold, were married for 62 years. They didn't have any children. Saul is her only living relative.
McFarland has made a big impact on people's lives. For instance, Shirley Trower made a career out of politics, but she admitted she would have never been interested in the field had it not been for McFarland.
"She was a committeewoman for the Wellborn District," Trower said of McFarland. "Now, I work in the appraiser's office for the Wyandotte County Courthouse. Jo's the one who got me started. She would always go around making sure everyone would vote during elections."
Trower has now been working in the Wyandotte County Courthouse for 39 years.
Another person of interest at the party was Leonard Lutz, 94, Bonner Springs. Lutz and McFarland were part of six couples who were friends for more than 50 years. They now are the sole survivors from the six couples.
"I was asking her about her rings the other day and if she wanted to eventually give them to someone," Pearce said. "She looked at me like she hadn't even thought about it."