Mars woman reflects on her life as 100th birthday nears
Growing up on a farm was hard work for Edna Grubbs Keil and her eight siblings, but what didn't hurt them made them all stronger.
Keil will turn 100 on Oct. 13 after spending time with her family and friends at an afternoon reception at Concordia Lutheran Ministries in Mars on Oct. 12. Daughter Janet Braun of McCandless, stepdaughter Ruth Ann Wilson of Mars and her other children planned the event. Many of her 10 grandchildren and 14-great-grandchildren also will attend.
“'You either work, or you don't eat,' my father used to say,” Keil recalled of days on the Grubbs Farm in McCandless, where the family raised dairy cows and grew vegetables.
The original house and barn are still standing.
Keil's parents were Leeland and Minnie Grubbs. Her mother was a member of the Pearce family. Two roads in McCandless carry on the families' surnames.
The six girls and three boys pitched in on the farm work. There was no gender bias.
“We did everything, male and female, and when you were done working, you were tired. But we had enough of us to play,” she said.
The big walnut tree on their property was great for swinging really high, she said.
In autumn, they made apple butter in the yard, and as needed, they churned fresh milk into butter. On Sundays, the family hopped into the carriage to travel to services at Cross Roads Presbyterian, the first church in Pine Township. There wasn't enough room for all 11 of the family members to make the trip, so they took turns at worship.
She attended classes in the Walters School House near North Park. Her high school days were spent at the former Perry High School, which was in Ross Township.
“She walked about three miles to Perry Highway and then took a street car,” said Braun, 70, of McCandless.
After high school, Keil returned to the farm to work. On May 24, 1934, she married Charles Harbusch and raised a daughter and a son. In 1965, she married Wilbur Keil after her first husband died, and her family grew by four: Ruth Ann, Barbara, Charles and Robert.
Entertainment was simple then. She remembers men pitching horseshoes and lots of singing — mostly hymns. But a mention of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” brought a smile to her face.
“I had two good husbands,” Keil said. “They were both champions.”
She enjoyed her step-children as well.
She said her faith in God has gotten her through a lifetime.
“I never thought I'd live to be 100,” she said. “I had a couple of operations.”
Keil had lived independently until she was 90. Braun and her husband cared for her for almost nine years, and Concordia has been her home for about 18 months.
She's never without family visitors at the personal care home.
“We're very blessed,” Braun said. “She's a remarkable example.”
“Hard work and faith got her through,” Wilson, 74, said. “She's been very determined.”
Still with her unflagging spirit, Keil reflects on a life of “too many good memories. I had a good life,” she said.
Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.