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South Toledo: Art lover celebrates century

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Grandson Stephen Slayton, top row, daughter Susan Cowling, granddaughter-in-law Elaine Slayton, and great-great granddaughter Emma Slayton, helped Marian Childs celebrate her birthday.

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Marian Williamson Childs said she has no real secret to living a long life, but she stayed in shape over the years by taking long walks and "taking every day as it comes."

Born Jan. 26, 1905, in Tecumseh, Mich., the South Toledo resident celebrated her 100th birthday yesterday with some family members and friends.

Mrs. Childs grew up and has spent most of her life in the Toledo-Michigan area. She is the oldest of four children. An avid painter, she took art lessons at the Toledo Museum of Art for many years.

"Art has always been a big part of my life," she said, seated in her room at the Swan Creek Retirement Village Health Center. She lived in her own house in the retirement village, but recently moved into the health center after she suffered a second stroke.

Mrs. Childs was one of 13 students who were boarders at the Smead School For Girls, which later became the Maumee Valley Country Day School. The school, which was partly boarding and day school at the time, was a good preparatory academy for students who sought to attend elite colleges, said Susan Childs Cowling, Mrs. Childs' daughter.

She said her grandfather had long planned that his daughter would attend Wellesley College in Massachusetts and so he sent her to the Smead School For Girls to prepare her.

Mrs. Childs graduated from the Smead School in 1923, where she received honors and was awarded the headmaster's award in her senior year and was consequently accepted at Wellesley.

In 1927, Mrs. Childs graduated from Wellesley with a degree in geology and returned to Michigan. She started working as a traveling saleswoman, selling hand-made footed pajamas in many parts of the state. It was during that time that she met Edmund Childs, her future husband. They got married on Aug. 21, 1929. He died at the age of 69 in October, 1976.

Recently, Mrs. Childs marveled at the flowers on the bedside table in her room. It was sent from Maumee Valley Country Day School as a present to celebrate her birthday.

During the fall presidential campaign, her grandson took her on a campaign stop outside Cleveland, where she saw President George W. Bush.

"I loved it," she recalled.

He daughter recalled that one of her mother's favorite things to do was to go skating with her girlfriends in Toledo.

"She has always lived modestly and she's been lucky," said her daughter. "She's the only one in the family who has lived that long a life." A mother of two, Mrs. Childs outlived one son who died in July, 1999.

"We are thrilled to celebrate her 100th birthday," said her daughter, also an alumnus of the Maumee Valley Country Day School. She said that even though her mother never often talked about the prospect of living to be 100, she made it a goal as the days neared.

Contact Karamagi Rujumba at:

krujumba@theblade.com or

419-724-6064

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