300+ years of experience: Golden Oaks honors three centenarians

Golden Oaks Village residents (left to right) Anna Mae Shaw, Roselyn Close and Esther Walton were recognized as centenarians during a ceremony Tuesday. (Billy Hefton / Enid News & Eagle)

ENID, Okla. — When Esther Walton was born, the United States was several months from entering the First World War, the Oklahoma state Capitol still was being built, and the Ford Model T ruled the American road.

Walton, 102 years old, was one of three centenarians honored Tuesday at Golden Oaks Village, along with Anna Mae Shaw, 100, and Roselyn Close, 101.

Staff, residents and family gathered in the chapel at Golden Oaks Tuesday afternoon for a brief ceremony hosted by Centenarians of Oklahoma, a Tulsa nonprofit dedicated to honoring Oklahomans who have lived past their 100th birthday.

Gloria Helmuth, director of Centenarians of Oklahoma, said the group's volunteers travel the state to recognize centenarians, to make sure their voices and experiences are honored.

"We appreciate the fact that the people we see here have gone before us to make life a little easier for us," Helmuth said, "and we want to pay that back a little, and pay it forward for when we turn 100."

Helmuth presented each of the honorees with a "Golden Okie" pin, along with an angel pin and framed commendation. A group of quilters at Golden Oaks also made a quilt for each of the honorees, which also were presented during Tuesday's gathering.

Anna Mae Shaw said she was just glad to be there for Tuesday's ceremony.

"It's pretty good," she said, "just to be here past 100 years old."

Shaw was born Oct. 14, 1919, to Fred and Buelah Carter in Goltry. She worked for 20 years in Gray's Clothing Store, and could be found doing yard work and gardening at her home when she was 94.

Shaw had some simple advice for younger people who might aspire to make it past 100: "Just behave yourself."

Her daughter, Karen Schimon, of Carrier, said there are a lot of lessons to be learned from her mother, and anyone who's lived as long as she has.

"I'm still learning from her," Schimon said. "We all learn from her, no matter what state she's in, we all learn from her."

Harold Shaw, Anna Mae's son, said society would be better off if more people paused to listen and learn from elders.

"Just remember where they've been," he said, "and how much much better things would be if we'd just follow in their footsteps."

Barbara Ball, a family friend of the Shaws, said our focus on technology gets in the way of learning from those who've gone before us.

"We need to just put the phones down," she said "and listen to them."

Montie Walton, son of Esther Walton, said the family was excited to see his mom honored.

"I think it's very interesting and exciting that she's seen so many changes in her life," Montie said, "and it's an honor for us for her to be honored."

Esther's daughter, Sandra Quintanilla, said her mom "has been a good mother and a good cook," and her son-in-law, Joe Quintanilla, also fondly remembered her cooking.

Evert Walton, Esther's son, said she's still known for her sense of humor, and her cooking.

"She loved to laugh," Evert said, "and whenever anyone was sick, she'd make chicken and noodles."

Esther was born on Feb. 16, 1917, in Mutual, and worked there as a homemaker and seamstress until she retired in 1985.

Roselyn Close, who was born March 10, 1918, in Joplin, Mo., only reluctantly retired five years ago from a job in the Golden Oaks dining room, at the age of 96.

"It was kind of hard to quit," she said of leaving her daily routine on the job.

For younger people who'd like to have that kind of longevity, Close urged them to "take things in stride."

"Don't give up, whatever comes your way," she said. "Whatever comes along, accept it as part of your life and part of your experience, and go ahead and make the most of it."

Anyone who has a centenarian they'd like to have honored can contact Gloria Helmuth at (918) 510-0150. For more information, visit http://centenariansok.com.

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Neal is health, military affairs and religion reporter and columnist for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @jamesnealwriter, and online at jamesrneal.com.
Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Do you have a story idea for James? Send an email to jneal@enidnews.com.

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