Parade for turning 100

Longtime area resident Myrtle Jones celebrated her 100th birthday Friday. Family, friends and staff at Freeman Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Kingsford organized a drive-by parade in her honor. Jones’ son, Vance, along with her step-great-great-granddaughter, Sara Basso, passed by on his tractor to wish the former farm kid and wife a “happy birthday.” Freeman staff, from left, are Kayla Reeve, social service/administration director; Lisa Loar, activities director; Sue Vivio, business office manager; Katie Steinbrecher, OT; Laura Mortl, PTA; and Melissa LaLonde, administrator. (Terri Castelaz/Daily News photo)

KINGSFORD — Every centenarian has their own secrets to living a long life. Myrtle Jones, a current resident of Freeman Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Kingsford, joined that elite group Friday.

Jones’ daughter, Judy Jennings says her mother credits her longevity to hard work; healthy, farm-grown products; faith; family; and friends.

Due to the pandemic visitor restrictions still in place at Freeman’s, family, friends and staff arranged a drive-by parade Friday to celebrate her 100th birthday.

“Turning 100 is a milestone and we still wanted to do something in her honor,” Jennings said. “We are so appreciative to Freeman’s for helping us make it a very special day for her.”

Jones was born Sept. 25, 1920, in Iron Mountain, to Simon and Florence (Markosen) Lidbeck. She had three brothers, Curtis, Warren and Duane Lidbeck; and two sisters, Gladys Kinnee and Gail Ford, who is her only surviving sibling. She graduated in 1938 from Kingsford High School.

Myrtle Jones, a resident of Freeman Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Kingsford, celebrated her 100th birthday Friday with family, friends and staff who organized a drive-by parade in her honor. Shown with Jones, from left, are daughter Judy Jennings, granddaughter Julie Erickson, daughter Diane Leflar, daughter-in-law Ann Jones, step-great-grandson Joe Basso and his wife Elizabeth, in back, and step-great-great-grandson Levi Basso. (Terri Castelaz/Daily News photo)

She was raised on the family farm, Valley Brook Dairy in Aurora, Wis.

After receiving her driver’s license, Jones was able to take over the milk route for her father. “She has many fond memories of the people she interacted with while delivering milk during her teen years,” Jennings said.

Her mother shares many stories about how she had to walk to school from their farm in Aurora — just past the co-op — to the Kingsford High School, Jennings said. “Sometimes they were able to catch a ride on the milk truck or from a neighbor when the weather got really cold,” she said.

She married Wallas Jones on Sept. 28, 1940, in Breitung Township. The couple then purchased and moved to a small farm on Kimberly Road in Breitung Township, where they raised their children.

She has one son, Vance of Randville, and two daughters, Diane Leflar of Sault Ste Marie and Judy Jennings of Iron Mountain. She also has four grandchildren and numerous step-grandchildren, as well many great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren — too many to count.

Myrtle Jones receives balloons, cards and gifts from family and friends at her drive-by parade. (Terri Castelaz/Daily News photo)

“She worked alongside Wallas on the farm, and did domestic work for several families and offices in the Iron Mountain area,” Jennings said.

They lived on the farm until the property was sold to the Quinnesec paper mill. Myrtle and Wallas then purchased a home in Upper Pine Creek. He preceded her in death on May 1, 2013. She continued to reside in that home until moving to Freeman’s in October 2017.

The Jones’ were very active during their farming years in various farm organizations, including the Farmers Union, Dairy Herd Improvement Association and Soil Conservation. They also were active leaders in Dickinson County 4-H, and named Farmers of the Year in 1980.

Myrtle had an exceptional green thumb. “She loved gardening, especially working in her flower beds and fussing with all her plants in the house,” Jennings said. “No blooming flower was safe outside; she had to have them in the house and arranging and rearranging them.”

She also loved to cook and bake — selling many, including wedding cakes, birthday cakes, Christmas cookies, fruitcakes and more.

Jones is the oldest and longest-living member of First Presbyterian Church in Kingsford, where she was a Sunday school teacher. 

With the COVID-19 restrictions, such as social distancing and no in-person family visits, her daily activities are limited to one-on-one, however, “we are fortunate enough to be able to have daily window visits utilizing phones,” Jennings said.


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