Former schoolteacher celebrates 100th birthday

Kevin Clifford/Nevada Appeal

Kevin Clifford/Nevada Appeal

She was born 100 years ago Wednesday, but even Alice Hargrave couldn't believe it.

She insisted she didn't feel a century old, telling anyone at Mountain Springs Assisted Living Center that she couldn't possibly be celebrating 100 years on Earth.

To hear her speak, it seemed a little too hard to believe.

"I'm just fluttering with surprise," Hargrave told a small gathering of well-wishers on her birthday at the Carson City retirement home. "I feel wonderful." When asked if she felt her age, the former junior high schoolteacher paused. "I fool the public every day."

Residents and friends at Mountain Springs feted their oldest resident with balloons and a cake with a single candle that took a bit of effort to blow out. One of her sons, Roy, quietly urged his mother to indulge the crowd.

She told of how her first car was a Ford - the vintage and model, she couldn't quite remember - and how she kept young because she was constantly inspired by her students over decades of teaching in Southern California.

She's been able to live a good life, she said, in part because her students kept her young and, she said, as a teacher, "you were always hopeful."

Her friends and her activities - she enjoys singing, taking outings to church and the Nevada State Museum, where she worked as a docent for years - have a lot to do with her youthful outlook.

"I enjoy the people that live here," she said. "It's much better than having to keep house."

Hargrave has lived at the assisted living center for more than a decade.

In between receiving hugs and presents, the Albany, N.Y., native cracked jokes with her friends.

"She's somebody whose mind is just clicking along," friend Joan Papaianni said. Hargrave and Papaianni have attended St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Carson City together for 41 years.

Hargrave was proud of the fact she married a doctor, telling people her husband, Fred, who died at age 89 in 1993, always knew when she wasn't feeling well. Together, the couple raised two sons, Roy and David.

Alice Hargrave has six grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

"I think one of the things that has given her long life is that she's always been a hoot," said Jeff Paul, who leads the congregation at St. Peter's. Paul said he has always respected Hargrave, even going so far as to make sure his shoes are tied every time he meets her.

"You always want to be your best when you're around her," he said.


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