Born in 1906, Emma Oliver has had the opportunity to watch the opening of two centuries. The Cedars resident recently celebrated her 104th birthday with family, friends and members of The Cedars staff.
Born in 1906, Emma Oliver has had the opportunity to watch the opening of two centuries. The Cedars resident recently celebrated her 104th birthday with family, friends and members of The Cedars staff. She has watched the creation of new technologies and lived in a world that went from a very large one to a very small one. From living in a world where the fastest form of transportation was a train and the most common one a horse, to a world where jets scream across the sky and cars are in every garage.
Born in Gypsum, southeast of Salina, Emma was raised by a single mother who took on many jobs just to keep her family afloat. When she grew up, her older sister, Anne, worked to put her through Kansas Wesleyan. She then moved west to Colorado. Whether it was because teaching was one of the few professions that women could hold in the early part of the 20th century or because she felt she needed to give back because of the hard work that her mother and sister had done for her, Emma dedicated her life to the selfless work of a teacher. For the next 40 years she taught for 15 years in Colorado and another 25 in Kansas.
Sometime in the early 1930s Emma married her husband, Sydney, but shortly after their son, Jim, was born, they separated. So Emma, in emulation of her mother, worked hard as a single mother. She took many different teaching jobs to keep the family going mainly teaching at small country schools. When the schools started to disappear because of consolidation, Emma found herself bouncing from school to school until she finally finished out her teaching career in Canton in 1968.
She now spends her days sitting comfortably within her home at The Cedars spending her time watching Lawrence Welk, reading cards to her sister (who lives in the same home) and spending time with the other residents.
If this wasn’t evidence enough of Emma’s good nature, the reaction of the nursing staff to her would certainly drive home the point. When asked if Emma was easy to get along with, a member of The Cedars nursing staff replied, “Oh my yes,” and adding stories about Emma’s good nature and the kind things that she does for the other residents.
Emma was completely surprised at her birthday party, and seemed incredibly happy about the event. She sat by her son and daughter-in-law, and when she walked up to the table to look at her beautifully decorated cake, she merely said, “I didn’t expect all of this,” and blew out her candles.
It is rare for a person to reach such an esteemed age, but when asked how she has managed to live as long as she has, Emma just replies, “I stayed upright”. When you take into account all of the trials and tribulations that Emma has had to endure, it may seem odd that she has weathered the passing of a century so well. Maybe those trials are the very thing that kept her upright.