Anne Kollmeier wanted to become a teacher, but a car crash altered her course, propelling her to leave the Wood County farm where she grew up and move to the big city of Toledo.
Mrs. Kollmeier has made a home for herself in Toledo, charming friends and neighbors for decades with her sassy wit and caring nature.
More than 50 people sent personal notes and handmade greeting cards to Mrs. Kollmeier to wish her a happy birthday. She turns 100 years old today.
"She's got so many friends, close friends," her grandson, Greg Parthemer, said.
"She's really independent and strong, and I've never seen someone with such a good attitude so much of the time."
Mrs. Kollmeier, born Anne Murphy, spent her childhood on a farm in Weston, Ohio. She graduated from high school in 1923 and started taking classes at Bowling Green State University with the intention of becoming a teacher.
"The university was new. There were only a couple of buildings up," she said. "I think my class had 16 people."
She drove every day back and forth from her parents' farm to campus, and one day, she collided with another student's car in the center of town.
"It ruined my father's car," she said. "I had to quit school because I had no way to get from the farm to Bowling Green."
Mrs. Kollmeier soon decided to move to Toledo to look for a job.
She lived in South Toledo with two roommates and got a job in a hot dog restaurant on Broadway.
She later took a higher paying job waiting tables at a restaurant on Monroe Street that catered largely to Toledo firemen.
Several of the firemen liked to tease her. Once on April Fool's Day they kept calling the restaurant and leaving messages for her to call back to different phone numbers that all connected to the Toledo Zoo.
"The firemen had a ball. I was the farm girl, and they ran me all over," she said.
"It was good for me, because I got out of my farm skin. I became a city girl after a while."
Mrs. Kollmeier worked several other jobs, including cashier at Lamson's department store in downtown Toledo and a long distance telephone operator at Electric Auto-Lite Co.
For about 17 years, she worked as a telephone operator for the Bell & Beckwith brokerage firm.
She was married for 59 years to her husband, Art, before he passed away.
The couple had one daughter, Janet, and Mrs. Kollmeier now has three grandsons and three great-grandchildren.
All of her grandsons live in the Toledo area and regularly see Mrs. Kollmeier, who now lives in Maumee.
"They are so good to me," she said. "They call and never hang up without saying, 'Grandma, I love you.' It makes my day."
Mrs. Kollmeier is also much loved by the congregation at St. Andrew United Methodist Church on Heatherdowns Boulevard.
The church threw her a birthday party on Sunday.
She has attended the church for about 60 years, and taught Sunday school there and served as secretary of the church's administrative board for many years.
Her longtime friend, Betty Scheffert, said Mrs. Kollmeier is an important part of the congregation.
"She's there every Sunday, and if you don't greet her with a hug or a kiss, you're on her list," she said.