GREENVILLE—Virginia (McCabe) O’Dell was honored on Sunday afternoon at the Brethren Retirement Community, where she now resides.
The reason for the special occasion? The observance of her approaching 104th birthday, which is today.
Yes, she was born March 22, 1919.
Seventy-four people attended the surprise party and she was elated when she arrived at the room where the party was held. Virginia, who was using a walker and escorted by a family member, quickly put the walker aside, and made her way without incident to a nearby chair. But, she didn’t remain seated the whole time. There were things to do and people to meet.
Unable to make the party were her son, Larry, and granddaughter Glee, both of whom were said to have been ill. Church friends, flower club friends and family were among those there to share in this milestone observance.
A visit from Norma Crawford, of Arcanum, with whom she made friends at church and hadn’t seen in quite a while, was even more of a surprise for Virginia.
“It was heart-warming to see them together again,” said Virginia’s granddaughter-in-law, Amy O’Dell.
Before the celebrant arrived on the scene of the party, the crowd that gathered in the room was informed that she would be asked why she thought she’s lived so long.
“She will say country living,” Amy said.
However, it surprised Amy when her mother-in-law instead replied, “Good family, good friends. My family always kept me on my toes.”
Virginia described herself as “pretty healthy” and remarked. “I think I have been so lucky.”
“She’s lived a spectacular life,” Amy’s husband Rob said.
Virginia is the first in her family to reach the age of 100. No one else in the family has lived to be 100.
“There were eight of us and I was the last one,” she said. Her mother, Julia, died in 1935 at the age of 56 and her father, Samuel B. McCabe, died Dec. 17, 1993, at the age of 76.
Despite her age, Virginia gets around…going to church every Sunday at Fort Jefferson United Methodist, attending the card parties of the Darke County Senior Citizens of which she is president at the Moose Lodge in Greenville once a week, and she still attends some Wildflower Garden Club meetings, not to mention enjoying activities at BRC, especially bingo and lots of it.
And, she recently attended the Franklin-Monroe Elementary’s 100th Day of School observance with her granddaughter and even spoke to the students about her life.
It doesn’t stop there. She even went to the Great Darke County Fair last year, and won for being the Oldest Fair-Goer on Monday there.
The fair is no stranger to Virginia, who has lived at BRC since February 2022. She won numerous awards for her flowers as an adult over the years and showed Holsteins when in 4-H.
She and her husband, the late Robert O’Dell had owned Producers Livestock for many years until they retired.
They met when he started working for a neighbor man.
“He became a friend of my brother, Orien McCabe,” she said.
The O’Dells, who were married Aug. 11, 1936, were the parents of two sons, Larry and the late Ronald O’Dell. They have are six grandchildren and quite a few great-grandchildren.
Before coming to BRC, she was still living alone on her farm.
Virginia, who attended New Madison High School until her junior year, was a cheerleader there, sharing those duties with one other person, a male student, Dale Stump.
“I haven’t seen him for a long time,” said Virginia.
In addition to doing crossword puzzles, she enjoys watching basketball on TV, and she is quite fond of the Cincinnati Reds. However, she prefers basketball.
What does she consider the greatest invention during her lifetime?
“Bob and I married and it was a while before we had electricity,” she recalled. “I ironed with an old iron on the stove.”
She also agreed with someone else that indoor plumbing was another great invention.
Flower club friend Charlene Thornhill had this to say, “Virginia is the type of person everyone wants to be like — kind, considerate, honest, caring and thoughtful.”
She said Virginia became a member of the Wildflower Garden Club at the age of 62.
She noted that Virginia has hand-stitched more than 20 quilts, all with vibrant colors, for family members to enjoy.
“She was determined to stay busy,” Thornhill said.
That’s probably why she is still here today. And, classy as ever..