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Published: Wednesday, 11/8/2006

Wauseon centenarian looks back on active life

Adrienne Pugh Adrienne Pugh

WAUSEON - For most of her 100 years, Adrienne Pugh has appeared to have it all.

At 21, she married F. Mercer Pugh, a 27-year-old lawyer who played football at Ohio State University and the University of Toledo, where he was known as "Terrible Mercer Pugh."

They lived in Toledo for several years and then moved to Fulton County, where in the 1930s Mr. Pugh had the distinction of becoming one of the only Democratic county prosecutors in the history of the highly Republican county. After about a term as prosecutor, he went into private practice, working for decades in an office across from the county courthouse, where the county administration building is now.

He still went to the office regularly at age 88. And when he died at 91, the couple had been married 64 years.

They had three children, eight grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren. Their sons became engineers and their daughter a speech and hearing therapist.

And through the years, Mrs. Pugh made great meals and kept an immaculate home - doing all of her own housework - at 320 East Oak St. in Wauseon. She and her husband raised tomatoes and roses.

They taught Sunday school at First Christian Church in Wauseon, where Mrs. Pugh played the piano and organ and Mr. Pugh advised the church on legal matters.

She served on the Wauseon Public Library board for decades, volunteered at the local hospital, belonged to Eastern Star, and played bridge.

She crocheted afghans and tablecloths and had time to read - sometimes finishing a book a day. Perry Mason and Agatha Christie mysteries were favorites of Mrs. Pugh, who considered becoming a teacher and studied at what was then Bowling Green Normal College for a year after graduating from Bowling Green High School.

"She was a monster reader," her grandson Jim Scruta said.

The Pughs traveled in every state but Alaska. They kept a cottage at Clear Lake, Ind., for about 40 years and enjoyed big-band dancing in Toledo. In their later decades, they spent the early spring in Florida.

But Mrs. Pugh is no stranger to hard times.

When she was 8, her mother, Maude Meeker, died. Her father, Melvin, was a railroad man who was seldom home, and Mrs. Pugh, the only child, was sent to live with her grandparents on their farm near Bowling Green. She traveled alone on part of that trip and only rarely had contact with her father from then on.

In 2000 - about eight years after Mrs. Pugh moved from her home of 60 years on Oak Street to a duplex on South Brunell Street - she suffered a stroke. She's been in nursing homes ever since, first Heartland of Wauseon and now Fulton Manor.

It's become hard for her to devour books or even chat extensively.

Remaining are her memories of so many changes over her long life. She grew up with horses and buggies and didn't get a driver's license herself until she was about 40. She took her test with her oldest child.

The memories of her long life aren't hers alone.

"She's always been a gracious lady," said Fulton County Common Pleas Court Judge James Barber, who practiced law with Mr. Pugh in the early 1970s.

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