Olive Lauer is living proof that age is just a number.
At 105 years old, she's learning French, playing cards every weekend (and often wins), and keeping track of her great-grandchildren's progress at school.
Monday, Ms. Lauer celebrated her birthday at Kingston Residence of Sylvania, a care facility where she is the oldest resident. Family members and dozens of fellow residents attended the festivities, which included a raucous ragtime piano show and plenty of cake.
"I feel wonderful," Ms. Lauer said, as she sat in a wheelchair with a plate of cake in front of her and a tiara on her head. "I'm enjoying it immensely,"
Sitting beside her was granddaughter Lisa Warren, who marveled at Ms. Lauer's birthday milestone. She said her grandmother is still sharp and can recall all of her family's phone numbers and the constantly changing security code for the building where she lives.
"She's amazing. I wish I had her memory," Ms. Warren said.
Born near Deerfield, Mich., Ms. Lauer moved to Toledo in 1931 after she got married. The fourth of five children, Ms. Lauer was particularly close to her sister, Winifred, with whom she shared a joint wedding and later a duplex. She has two daughters, Janet and Shirley, and was a homemaker for most of her life. She also volunteered at her daughters' school, Notre Dame Academy, and for Little Sisters of the Poor.
Ms. Warren recalled many happy visits to her grandmother's house as a child, where she and her brother would get to eat Ms. Lauer's homemade cinnamon rolls and cookies. She said no one in her family has been able to match her grandmother's cooking skills.
"We always felt so loved," Ms.
Warren said. "She's been the best grandmother you could ever ask for."
Today, Ms. Lauer has seven grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren, although many could not make it to yesterday's festivities because they live in other parts of the country. Ms. Lauer said her family always has been the most important part of her life.
Asked for the secret of her longevity, Ms. Lauer paused for a moment and then leaned forward with a serious expression on her face.
"I had a little drink of wine once in a while," she said quietly, before breaking into a wide smile.
Heather Polcyn, an activity assistant at Kingston Residence, said Ms. Lauer is the oldest resident the care facility has had since it opened 10 years ago. She called Ms. Lauer "a little ball of fire" because she is so energetic, and still practices moving around every day with the help of her walker.
Bill Green, 75, who is also staying at the Kingston Residence, said he couldn't believe Ms. Lauer's age when he first met her at a Christmas party in December.
"I would never have thought that," he said. "She's so sharp. For 105 years old she's just amazing."
Yesterday marked the culmination of three days of celebrations for Ms. Lauer. On Saturday, family members took her to Merle Norman cosmetic studio in Sylvania to get her makeup done. That was followed by a luncheon at Hathaway House in Blissfield, Mich., and, on Sunday, a special Mass at Christ the King Roman Catholic Church in Toledo.
Shannon Schwanbeck, owner of the Sylvania Merle Norman studio, said she was flabbergasted when she met Ms. Lauer for her makeup session.
"Her skin is like a 50 year old's. She has all her hair," Ms. Schwanbeck said. "I was expecting a really old lady all hunched over, and I was thinking: 'How am I going to do her makeup?' But she was fabulous. She just glowed."
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