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Examiner
  • Frank Haight: A happy, simple life for new centenarian

  • Alice Bonacker isn’t one to get excited – not even about her upcoming 100th birthday.

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  • Alice Bonacker isn’t one to get excited – not even about her upcoming 100th birthday.
    “I don’t get excited about anything,” says the feisty, petite woman who laughingly admits she’s a “pain in the neck” to Kay Black, the only offspring of the family matriarch.
    “She has a short memory,” Kay says of her mother, who has resided the past 13 years in the Independence home of her daughter and son-in-law, Dave.
    Up until a short time ago, Kay didn’t have to repeat things to her mom. But that was then. Today, all of that has changed.
    “I have to repeat (things) to her now. It irritates the both of us.”
    Alice, though, is probably the only family member not excited about her milestone birthday. About a month ago, she informed her 72-year-old daughter that it was the family who wanted her to become a centenarian so they could celebrate the event.
    “(But) not me,” Alex exclaimed. “I’m ready to go home.”
    Says Kay: “(Alice’s) grandchildren are so excited to have a grandmother who has lived a hundred years – especially Max. He’s really excited about his grandmother’s milestone birthday.”
    The soon-to-be-centennarian came into the world as Alice Marvin on Jan. 22, 1913, in Couderspout, Pa.
    Her birthday, though, will be observed Sunday, Jan. 27, with an open house from 3 to 6 p.m. at the home, 1921 N. Liberty St. All friends and acquaintances are invited to attend.
    “We just thought we would have a nice open house here (rather than the church) ... where she feels comfortable,” Kay explains.
    Wearing red and green earrings, a bright red sweater and a long holiday necklace with flashing colored lights, Alice recalls her mother, Pearl, passed away when she was 3 years old.
    “My mom died before I had the opportunity to know her,” Alice says, recalling she was the baby of the family.
    With no mom to take care of her, Alice turned to her father, her two sisters and two brothers for love and support.
    “I had a very good father ...well liked by the people ... and he took good care of us (children),” she says.
    Any problems between father and daughter? None that Alice recalls.
    “My father and I got along fine together. We just worked together ... and I did most of the cooking around the house.”
    Alice grew up in Warren, Ohio. She graduated in 1931 from Warren G. Harding High School where she excelled as a guard on the girls’ basketball team and was affectionately called “Shorty Marvin.”
    “She was one of their stars,” Kay says of her mom, who also showed off her athletic skills in other sports.
    Page 2 of 2 - Says Alice: “I played anything they had; it didn’t matter.”
    In 1935, she and Fred Bonacker were married at the groom’s home in Niles, Ohio. They also lived in Sharon, Pa., before moving to Independence in 1984 to be closer to their daughter’s family. They were married 53 years before Fred’s death in 1987.
    Having never worked for a living, Alice is a stranger to the workforce, but not to volunteering. She was a Meals on Wheels volunteer for many years in both Ohio and Missouri. She also reached out to other charities.
    “She use to pack (the meals),” Kay says, “and when she came here, she and I would deliver Meals on Wheels. Now she gets them.”
    There weren’t too many disappointments in Alice’s life, but having to drop out of the Meals on Wheels program was one of them.
    “I hated it when I could not deliver meals anymore,” she says, citing losing her driver’s license as the reason.
    Ask Alice what she attributes her long life to and she will tell you: “healthy eating and happiness.”
    Kay, though, says her mom might want to include longevity as an attribute.
    “There seems to be longevity in her family,” she says, with her father living to be 90 and her two sisters following in their dad’s footsteps. One lived to be 95.
    Alice lives a rather happy, simple life. Because it’s difficult for her to concentrate on things, she spends most of her time sitting in the cozy sunroom looking out the windows and talking to her little lap dog Betsy, who is her constant companion.
    Asked to describe herself, Alice ponders the question, then quips: “I am just a happy, old lady trying to get along.”
    Kay, though, sees her mother as a kind, generous person loved by everyone.
    “She has been a great mom. I love her. My husband loves her. And sometimes she didn’t think she knew how to be a mom, because she didn’t have a mom. But she did a great job, and I don’t think I could have had a better mother than my mom. I really don’t.
    “... And even though I get mad (at her) now and then, it’s not her fault; it is my own lack of patience. Most of the time, things are good. It’s hard. It’s not easy. (But) we do it.”
    Happy Birthday, Alice!
    Retired community news reporter Frank Haight Jr. writes this column for The Examiner. You can leave a message for him at 816-350-6363.
     

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