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home : columnists : columnists July 25, 2017

Two special ladies deserving of recognition

By Paula Dunn
From Time to Thyme

Remember when I said I was pretty sure at least one person on our Notable Nineties list was over 100?

Someone recently confirmed that for me, so I intended to put it in the column. Unfortunately, the person I had in mind, Isabelle Harger, passed away before I could get anything into print.

Nevertheless, anyone who makes it to 100 (or in Isabelle's case, 104!) deserves a special mention.

I don't recall ever meeting Isabelle, so I don't have any personal stories about her, but from what I've heard, she was quite amazing.

She began volunteering with the Red Cross in 1959, and later became involved with the Boys & Girls Club. She's also been active in Tri Kappa (she was a past president,) the D.A.R. and the First United Methodist Church.

She's probably best known, however, for being the longest-serving volunteer at Riverview Hospital. She was responsible for founding the hospital's chaplaincy program, was an original member of the hospital's Auxiliary Board and served as chairman of Riverview's Gray Ladies.

In 2010 Isabelle and Jerry Snyder were co-grand marshals of Noblesville's Fourth of July parade.

Jerry later wrote in her column that she and Isabelle had a wonderful time that day in spite of the extremely hot weather. She added that 97 year-old Isabelle was in great shape, but was rather short, so she had to sit on pillows and blankets in order to see over the side of their convertible.

Although Isabelle is gone now, we do still have at least one Notable Ninety who's managed to reach the century mark. She's someone I've known since the summer of 1976 when we both started working as costumed interpreters at Conner Prairie.

Eileen McClellan celebrated her 100th birthday this month, and in her own way, she's just as amazing as Isabelle.

Eileen lived alone (unless you count a dog, two indoor cats, assorted barn cats and the possum who resided under her house for a while) on her farm near Hardscrabble until she was well into her 90s.

And she mowed her own lawn the whole time she lived there! (Okay, she used a riding mower, but she did it all by herself.)

I called to check on her once four or five years ago after a particularly nasty storm passed through her area. She told me she was fine, but several of her trees had lost limbs during the storm and she was about to haul them to the back of her lot.

I drove out to help her, but I'm pretty sure she would have managed to get it done on her own if I hadn't. She's pretty resourceful.

One of Eileen's best buddies, Betty Gerrard (aka Betsy Birdwhistle,) talked Eileen into applying to work at Conner Prairie back in 1976. Betty says at the time Eileen wasn't sure she could handle being an interpreter.

Eileen handled it just fine - she ended up working at the museum for 27 years!

These days Eileen lives near Westfield with one of her daughters, but she's still somewhat independent. She has her own little apartment in her daughter's home, a lovely space she shares with her feline companion, Heidie.

If you're aware of any other Notable Ninety who's turned 100, let me know and I'll make a special note of it in the column.

In the meantime, I want to wish Eileen - or, as she sometimes calls herself, "Mrs. Dover," - a Happy Birthday!

(Get it?... "Eileen Dover." Did I mention Eileen has a great sense of humor, too?)

Notable Nineties Update: Nancy Sigman added Robert Sigman to the list and I'm adding Imogene Duvall. Congratulations!

Paula Dunn's From Time to Thyme column appears each Friday in The Times. Contact her at younggardenerfriend@gmail.com

Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, January 27, 2017
Article comment by: Stan Huff

My mother often mentioned Hardscrabble, but I never really knew where it was - out near Clarksville, maybe?

She also referred to something that was leaning a bit as "off toward Fishers". Any thoughts as to where that came from?

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