Two years ago on this day, a very special lady passed away. She was not famous or rich, but to many, she had a great impact on their lives. She embodied a life of struggles and faith that should be a reminder to all how we should live our own lives. For 100 years she experienced the difficulties, sorrows, and joys of this life, never giving up and never giving in. Below is a story I wrote a few months before her death. I felt that on this anniversary of her passing would be the perfect time to share with Uniquelahoma readers the story of an Oklahoma woman who made this state a little better just by making a life here. I miss you, Grandma!
A Century In The Making
Only 14 years after the invention of the first modern car and just 12 years after the first flight by the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, she came into this world. Now 100 years later in an age where there is a nuclear power, much speed aircraft, an International Space Station and computer technology that processes an unfathomable amount of information within the blink of an eye, she remains a witness to it all.
Her name is Marguerite Pease Dennison, and on May 15, 2015, she became a centurion. In her home in Cleveland, 186 family members funneled in to pay their respects to this family patriarch who raised four children while doing her small part of forging a nation the rest of us call home. She supported the war effort…and her family during WWII as a “Rosie the Riveter” working at McDonnell Douglas and then an inspector at Spartan. She would go on to hold other jobs, be active in her children’s education through the PTA and take care of her mother and mother-in-law as their health declined.
MOTHER OF THE YEAR
She was raised in an era where work was the fundamental practice of the day. And she has spent the majority of her century working on one aspect or another. As any mother worth her salt can attest, raising children is not only a labor of love but a love of the labor it takes to teach children how to be successful, productive citizens in society. She accomplished these efforts while being a wife to her late husband Charles (Kih-ek-ah) and was recognized for hard work in 1950 as KOTV’s Mother of the Year. Her daughters Charlene and Mary recognized how special their mother was and wrote a letter describing her commitment to her entire family to the station for a contest. They further explained that her golden rule to her children was always to treat others the way they wished to be treated. The station too recognized her efforts and she was awarded her prizes and honors on the Bill & Dottie Show. The rest is history as they say.
FIRST ELEVATOR OPERATOR IN TULSA
Beginning in 1949, she went to work for the First National Bank in Tulsa as an elevator operator…yes I wrote “elevator operator.” People didn’t always push their own buttons. An interesting footnote to that job was her being a witness to the first escalator installed in Tulsa. Her daughter Sammie recalled visiting her mother at work on the day it was completed and was one of the first to ride on the new contraption.
Before all of that though, she was a member of the first graduating class of Monte Casino completing her eighth-grade education. She would go on to complete the tenth grade at Cherokee High School and even attended Draughn’s Business School.
SISTER TO A CELEBRITY
It’s no wonder this woman understands the true meaning of family. This Osage mixed centurion was raised with 17 siblings, one of which shared the limelight with the likes of Will Rogers, Ben Johnson, and other famous cowboys. Barton Carter’s celebrity came after winning the World Roping Championship in 1925 at Madison Square Gardens. She had a little sliver of fame in her own right too by playing a role in the movie “The Prisoner” as a young girl. Her mother owned a movie studio and made movies with Cecil B. DeMill…well it’s who you know in Hollywood as the old saying goes.
A LEGACY OF FAMILY
Sadly the Depression would come, and the studio would go. But she was okay with that. God had different plans for her, and they were ones that would allow people to remember her without a movie screen. She followed God and her mother back to her birthplace of Oklahoma on her mother’s Osage allotment in Osage County. He then put her on a path that has led to 125 descendants, memories of helping countless family members and friends over the last century and the respect that is earned by doing what is right even when the world around her is doing wrong.
IN THE LIMELIGHT AT 100
Marguerite was recently honored by the Osage Tribe with the Sacred Eagle Fan Ceremony. This was done in honor of her 100 years in this life. The Osages believe that the eagle is the only creature that can fly to the right hand of God and then return to earth.
Also, OSU interviewed her for its Centenarian Project.
“I am very pleased that OSU interviewed me for their project. I have grandchildren and great-grandchildren who went to school there, and I know it must make them proud of me.”
By the way, did I mention that this remarkable woman is my grandmother? As a lover of history, I must say that I am in awe each time she and I visit. Not just by what she teaches me about a world that existed before me, but by the person she has helped mold in me through her countless examples of how a century of life should be spent.