ELKHART — A popular line at the Hubbart Hill retirement community last week was that those celebrating their 94th and 99th birthdays were little more than younglings.
That is because one resident, Charlotte McLauchlin, celebrated 108 years.
“I always just led a good life, ate good,” McLauchlin said Thursday.
But there is not really a secret to her longevity, she said.
“I didn’t do anything special to make me like that. But I come from a long line of people with big appetites and had good food,” she said, laughing.
McLauchlin said she grew up in Sturgis, Michigan, as did her mother, but her father was from the neighboring town of Fawn River, though his parents were immigrants from Canada.
The 108-year-old has three sisters and two brothers. And their father, she said, could tell many stories.
“He’d sit and tell us about when he was a boy growing up, what there was in Fawn River, and that was like a continued story,” she said. “It was bigger than what Sturgis was at that time that we were talking.”
McLauchlin said she was just a child when the family pulled up their roots in Michigan and took the train to Colorado, where her father had found a new job.
“But it didn’t turn out to be such a good place, and he said, ‘We’re better off back in Sturgis,’” she said. “My mother about dropped in her tracks.”
Still, the family of five at the time packed up and came back to Michigan.
When she completed high school in the 1930s McLauchlin went to work as a clerk for a county school commissioner in Centreville, Michigan. Later, she worked at a wholesale grocery company before going to Kirsch Company’s credit department, which is where she happily worked until her retirement.
“They were just nice people to work for and I learned a lot,” she said.
To celebrate McLauchlin being born on Jan. 9, 1912, as well as the other January birthdays at Hubbard Hill, residents gathered in a common space for birthday songs, swing music and birthday treats.
Over the weekend, her great-niece Kathleen Yoder said, McLauchlin’s family planned to celebrate again.
Given the special occasion at Hubbard Hill last week, McLauchlin was wearing a “Happy Birthday” tiara. She said it was OK to take a photo, “I just hope your camera doesn’t break.”
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