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Published: Saturday, 7/18/2009

Centenarian from Swanton takes a trip down memory lane


SWANTON - On the 364th day of her 99th year, Ruby Alspaugh took the ride of her life Friday.

She wasn't interested in going to Florida, and Cedar Point wasn't offered, but on the eve of her 100th birthday, a driver from Total Image Limousine in Springfield Township took her for a victory lap past significant places from Mrs. Alspaugh's century of life, including the Pike Township farmhouse where she was born and raised and the home in Delta where she lived in later life.

"It was a very nice trip. They drove me past all my old places," Mrs. Alspaugh said upon returning to the Swanton Health Care & Retirement Center, where she resides in the assisted-living wing.

A luncheon and party are planned Saturday at the center to celebrate her centennial birthday.

"You don't turn 100 every day, so I thought it should be something [special]," said Samantha Chapman, a nurses' aide at the facility who arranged the birthday limo ride for Mrs. Alspaugh after learning that she had never before enjoyed that luxury.

Glenda Welch, a daughter who was one of several relatives accompanying her for the trip, said it wasn't Mrs. Alspaugh's first big birthday adventure: She lifted off in a hot-air balloon to mark her 85th, rode in a motorcycle side car for her 95th, and rode a dune buggy for the first time two or three years ago.

"We are very impressed with her. She's a very distinguished person, and very adventurous," said Alice Bostelman, the retirement center's "administrative and marketing wizard," who joined with her colleagues in taking up a collection to pay for the limo ride.

While appreciating the gesture, Mrs. Alspaugh pleaded ignorance as to why her birthday would warrant so much attention, nor could she offer any theory about her longevity.

"I've got a lot of people that's been awfully good to me, that's for sure," she said. "I've just been healthy all my life. I never took too much medicine or done anything special."

But Mrs. Welch offered at least one clue: Mrs. Alspaugh's mother lived to age 99, and her sister made it to 102.

"She's got good genes," Mrs. Welch said. "I'll probably live to 110."

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