Remembering a Century In The Making

Author: C.L. Harmon
Category: People | Uniquelahoma
Date Published: July 14, 2017
Remembering the life

Two years ago, on this day, an extra­or­di­nary lady passed away. She was not famous or rich, but she had a sig­nif­i­cant impact on their lives to many. We are remem­ber­ing she embod­ied a life of strug­gles and faith that should remind all how we 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 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!

Remembering 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 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.

Remember 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 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.

Remember 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 real­ized 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. 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 but­tons. An inter­est­ing foot­note to that job was her 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 gadget.

Before all of that, though, she was a mem­ber of the first grad­u­at­ing class of Monte Casi­no, com­plet­ing her eighth-grade edu­ca­tion. She would fin­ish 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 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 tiny 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. DeMille…well, it’s who you know in Hol­ly­wood, as the old say­ing goes.

Remember 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, allow­ing 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 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 his­to­ry lover, 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.


C.L. Harmon

C.L. Harmon

C.L. is an award-winning journalist who spent many years in the newspaper and freelance fields. In addition to holding reporting and editing positions throughout his career, he also owned and operated a newspaper for several years. He was born, raised, and continues to reside in Oklahoma.


  1. George Pease III

    Always remem­ber Aunt Marge as smil­ing and a great sense of humor. I remem­ber Grand­pa Pease and Uncle Sam Pease teas­ing her, I think she was both their favorite.


    Inter­est­ing post. Ill be stick­ing around to hear more from you guys. Thanks!


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Each year as the dawn of winter sets in, there is an eerie dreariness that surrounds the world. It’s as though summer is at war with autumn and losing. And as nature withers before us, it seems to steal a bit of the light we see in our lives. But what we are not seeing is the design, the plan to bring about a future spring season even though it happens time and time again. This is what happens in life. So never allow your current dark season keep you from the warm bright future you know awaits you. - C.L. Harmon
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