Child holds a photograph of herself as a one-year old. She celebrated her hundredth birthday Saturday. (The Enterprise/Carolyn Agrimis)
VALE – Vale resident Marion Child celebrated turning 100 years old in style Saturday.
She was joined for a barbecue at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Vale by close to 100 friends and family members.
Her son Fred Child and granddaughter Holly Stapleton organized the centenarian’s birthday party.
“She was always caring, always responsible,” reflected Fred on growing up in the care of his mother. “She has a very high moral character, values like honesty and responsibility, stuff like that ranked very high for her.”
Fred is one five sons. The others are Andrew, Dee, Fred, Tim, and Bruce. Andrew and Dee have both passed away.
In total, Child has over 100 descendants including all of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and a few great-great-grandchildren “on the way,” according to Fred.
“I worship the ground she walks on,” said Stapleton. “She is and always has been my hero, and she is a hero to a lot of people.”
Child was born July 21, 1918, in Ogden, Utah, the eldest of three children. Her younger sister died in April at the age of 98, and her brother, who lives in Utah, is nine years younger.
Child said that one of her favorite childhood memories was going to the two-bedroom wooden cabin that her family owned for a few years in Ogden Canyon, Utah. She said she liked playing in the woods and spending time by the river there with her friends.
In the fifth grade, she met her future husband, Andrew Edison Child.
“Everyone called him Andrew but I called him Edison,” she said. Her blue eyes lit up as she recalled passing him a “love note” at that time. Though the two were family friends as they grew up, they didn’t start dating until their teen years.
“She used to love to dance as a teenager,” said Fred.
“We liked to dance, ballroom dancing, not tap dancing,” said Child. Her white curls bounced as she nodded her head. “We danced every night but Sunday night in a ballroom or dance hall.”
Child attended Davis High School in Kaysville, Utah, before going to work for the Utah Knitting Company sewing clothes. Around this time, she and Edison became engaged.
She wore his engagement ring for three years before they married in 1940 in Ogden.
The two moved to a farm where Marion occasionally drove the hay trucks. One time, when she was pregnant with her second child, she recalled driving one of the trucks when the gear shift popped out of the box.
She rolled into the nearby service station and asked the attendant if he could help her with putting the shifter back in. When he said that she couldn’t, Child said, “Well get out of the way so I can!”
They lived on the farm until 1947 when the family moved to Nyssa. Andrew had already been living in Nyssa, working for the Phillips Oil Station in town.
“It was interesting. You could go down the street and know everyone in town,” said Child.
In 1957, the couple moved from downtown Nyssa to a farm outside of town where they had built a house.
There, Child primarily managed the home. She cooked, canned, and cleaned while her sons ran the farm.
When asked how she raised five boys, Marion replied, “I didn’t raise them, they raised me…They taught me how to be a mother.”
Apart from raising her boys and managing the household, Child was involved in the community. She was the Malheur County Farm Bureau Women’s president in the early 1970s and was a part of Daughters of the Utah Pioneers.
After her husband’s death in 1991, Child committed more time to family.
“She was always giving, always taking meals to people, she was always involved,” said Stapleton. “She is the perfect example of what a lady should be.”
Child lived on her own until last October when she moved into Pioneer Place Assisted Living in Vale. Until three years ago, she was still driving and babysitting grandkids.
“She’d always go to our sports games and stuff if she could. She always wanted to be there and if she couldn’t, she’d always ask us about it,” said great-granddaughter Taylor Stapleton.
Child shared a message for those looking for advice on how to reach 100.
“Live a good life. Do the right thing all your life through,” she said.
Reporter Carolyn Agrimis: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.