The only reason Mary Ruth Travis could give for living to be 100 was that she doesn’t drink or smoke and neither did anyone else in her family.
“I don’t think anything about it,” she said.
Travis is in her fifth year at St. Luke Living Center in Marion. Her husband, Lawrence, died nine years ago at age 94. They were married for 66½ years.
She was born April 1, 1915. She was the fifth in a family of seven siblings and is the only one remaining.
Travis grew up northwest of Marion. Her family was surrounded by fellow Methodists and Pilsen Catholics. Neighbors worked together with neighbors.
“I was taught to work with other people and respect them,” she said.
Her family attended Valley United Methodist Church.
Travis graduated from Marion High School in the middle of the Great Depression. She will never forget her last two years in high school. Her older siblings had gone to school in cars but when the Dust Bowl years came, she and her younger sister had to use a horse and buggy. Her sister was an entrepreneur. She took town kids for rides in the buggy over the lunch hour or after school for a nickel apiece.
“A nickel was a lot of money in those days,” she said.
Travis never did learn how to drive a car and never felt the need for it. She could walk to work.
Her father gave her $99 to attend beauty school in Wichita, where she was a beautician for 40 years. She started the St. Francis Hospital beauty shop.
Travis and her husband moved to Marion in 1994. They had no children. Her nephew, Ora Hett, manages her affairs.
She remains alert and active.
“I do all I can for myself,” she said.
She dresses herself, goes to meals, and often walks the halls with the help of a walker. She likes to watch sports events on television. She keeps a calendar of events in her room and participates in the center’s activities. She enjoys going on bus trips with fellow residents and likes the rides through the countryside.
She was looking forward to a big birthday celebration today at the living center.
“Everybody from the whole hospital is going to come,” she said.
Travis is horrified at the high cost of things in today’s world, such as a $94,000 truck, a $25 shampoo and set, a $10,000 beauty school fee, and a $250 sports ticket.
Her greatest fear is that she will run out of money and will be forced to give up her private room.
“This is all I have,” she said as she surveyed her room. “It’s my home.”
She said she knows the government will take care of her if the money runs out, but it won’t be the same.
“I’m ready for the good Lord to take me,” she said.