HIRES / BLADE Enlarge
Dressed in a breezy white outfit and sitting upright in a overstuffed plaid chair, Cornelia Palmer quickly and easily launches into talking about her life without any hesitation.
"I graduated from Ohio University in 1906," she says at first, then with a small jolt and a wave of her hand, she promptly corrects herself, saying, "I mean 1926."
Celebrating her 100th birthday Saturday surrounded by five generations of family and friends, Mrs. Palmer confidently dictates snippets of her life, with details right down to the correct spelling of the streets on which she's lived.
"You gotta come back here and check this, Deb," Mrs. Palmer says to her granddaughter, Deborah Yenrick.
"Why?" Deborah Yenrick asks while continuing out the door. "You know everything."
Indeed, Mrs. Palmer's memory is razor sharp as she leans forward and reminisces about growing up and what life was like during the Depression.
"She has a tremendous memory," says Linda Yenrick, who is married to Mrs. Palmer's grandson, Tim Yenrick. "She remembers places and she can do math in her head."
Mrs. Palmer was born on July 3, 1904 and lived in East Toledo most of her life. She attended East Side Central Elementary School before graduating from Morrison R. Waite High School in 1922. After attending what was then Toledo University, she graduated from Ohio University and went back to East Side Central Elementary School to teach "everything" from 1926 to 1930.
Mrs. Palmer said she stopped working in 1930 to care for her daughter and to volunteer making ration books during WWII.
Her husband, William Palmer, died in 1950.
"Anyone my age that lives through the Depression, you're never the same again," she said. "In our generation, we always had something to do. We were always busy, so I didn't feel sorry for myself."
She then worked in the admitting department of Riverside Hospital for 12 years before she and her daughter went to work for her son-in-law, Robert Yenrick, who opened Robert's Frame Shop. She worked there until 1993 when she was 89.
"She worked for me for 30 years; I found out who was the boss," Robert Yenrick said. "She didn't want to retire, but I made her retire because I was retiring."
She lives with her granddaughter, Deborah Yenrick, and her friend, Joanne Loolen, who both moved to Toledo to live with Mrs. Palmer before the trio moved to Rossford together.
"Sixteen years ago, they moved in with me," she said. "They said I was getting old."
Even at 100, she feels she's not old enough to stop taking care of her three dogs - Holly, Libbey, and her favorite, Gracie the Chihuahua - and helping out around the house.
"I can do the dishes, and I answer the phone and take messages," she said confidently.
As the party winds down, guests take turns bidding Mrs. Palmer goodbye, one commenting on returning for her 110th party.
"Oh, come on," Mrs. Palmer shoots back. "Don't wish that on anybody."
She acquiesced to celebrating turning 101, "but don't wish anything more than that."
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