Even 105-year-old Margaret Martin can’t say what’s the secret of her longevity.

“I have no idea,” she said Friday during a birthday party at her residence at the Umpqua Valley Nursing & Rehabilitation Center.

Gina Boutcher, activities director for the center, remembers a different answer from Martin one year ago. Then, she told Boutcher that a secret to a long life was “having a good husband who spoils you rotten.”

In her case, that would be Edward Martin, who passed away in 1989.

On Friday, Martin shed a few tears of joy as nearly 30 people sang happy birthday followed by cake and ice cream. Martin had a piece of vanilla and a piece of chocolate cake, because after all, it was her party.

Boutcher had nothing but good things to say about Martin.

“Margaret is one of those residents who likes to do everything offered here,” Boutcher said. “She’s a firecracker, I wish I had half her energy at half her age.”

Martin attends church groups three times weekly and she participates in all the social events, the resident council and store. Martin can walk with assistance, but she prefers to travel with a manual wheel chair.

“She’s as sharp as a tack, and she’s so funny and gracious,” Boutcher said. “To me she doesn’t look a day over 70.”

Martin’s daughter, Jeannette Dake, 77, of Oakland, was also at the party. She was only too happy to fill in details about her mother’s life.

Martin was born in the village of Sea Cliff on the north shore of Long Island, New York in 1912. She was born as Margaret Lundin to her father, a Swedish merchant marine, and her mother a Norwegian immigrant who worked as a cook. Martin is the oldest of five children and is the only living sibling today.

During her youth, her family moved from the East Coast to Pasadena, California, where she met her husband and married him. The couple had two children, Jeannette, and a younger son, James, who lives in Arizona.

In the mid 1960s, she moved to Oregon to be near her daughter. The two lived next door to each other in the Tyee area until Martin grew too old to take care of her home alone and moved to an apartment in Sutherlin.

When Martin needed more assistance about three years ago, she moved to the Umpqua Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and has lived there ever since. Her daughter takes care of all her needs and visits often.

Today, Martin’s immediate family including grandchildren and great grandchildren will be visiting her for a private birthday party for family and close friends.

Reporter Vera Westbrook can be reached at 541-957-4216 or vwestbrook@nrtoday.com.

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Education and Arts and Entertainment Reporter

Vera Westbrook is the education, nonprofits, and arts and entertainment reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at 541-957-4216 or by email at vwestbrook@nrtoday.com.

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