More than 100 friends and family members gathered to celebrate the 99th birthday of Irene Richmond of Marion on Sunday at Eastmoor United Methodist Church, Marion.
The party was planned by Richmond’s seven grandchildren.
“So many people were here, it was wonderful,” Richmond said. “They couldn’t have given me a better gift.”
Richmond said she has lived in Marion since she was about 3 years old. She remains mentally sharp, living by herself and still driving when she can.
She said doesn’t practice any secret health trick; she simply lives day to day and in the moment.
“Just take it one day at a time,” she said. “Live each day as though it could be your last.”
One thing that has helped her into her old age is her painting, which is a hobby she didn’t start until later in life.
“I got to be 65, and I thought, ‘Well, I’m going to die soon, what do I have to show for it?’” she said.
It was then she began taking painting classes at Butler Community College. She was told she had natural ability. She developed that skill set and turned painting into her full-time hobby.
“It relaxes me,” she said. “You stop focusing on anything else but what you’re painting.”
Richmond mostly paints scenery, she said, landscapes and structures. Her inspiration comes from the land she loves, the Flint Hills.
“I remember one time my husband says, ‘I’ve had it with this place, we’re moving,’” she said. “I said, ‘OK, well maybe you are, but I’m not.’”
She has an affinity for old structures, and paints them frequently. She said many of the buildings she has painted have since fallen down.
She doesn’t paint as much as she used to, she said. It’s been a few years since she’s completed anything. But she still has ambition left in her artistic career.
“I have one more I want to do,” she said. “The old mill at Cedar Point.”
Being 99 and living by herself, Richmond admitted she has contemplated mortality.
“Sometimes I wonder why I’m still around,” she said with a smile.
But having days like Sunday, surrounded by family and friends, helps put everything in perspective.
“People came that I hadn’t seen in five years,” she said. “You realize how many people care about you. Today was really great.”