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.

A CENTURION

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.

Adver­tise­ments

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.

 

 

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A Grand­moth­er To All

Kel­ly B. Todd: Help­ing Chil­dren One Ses­sion At A Time

Adver­tise­ments

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