by Peter Jakey–
Some centenarians never believe they will reach the 100-year-old milestone. Marion (Frankford) Grabenstein fit into that category.
Each year, her Nov. 2 birthday would come and go, and she would get closer.
Marion didn’t believe it would be possible until just a couple of years ago, said daughter Barbara Berndt. “She started joking about, ‘Well, I’m 98, I’ve lived long enough.’ I said, no, Mom, you got to hit 100.”
The conversation repeated itself when Marion celebrated her 99th birthday.
Marion, who lives at Golden Beach Manor in Bearinger Township, is one of more than 1,700 Michigan residents who are 100 or older, according to 2010 Census data.
While the state’s population declined in the last decade, the number of centenarians rose. Michigan has 1,729 100- and 100-plus-year-olds – 1,462 women and 267 men. The 2000 Census reported a total of 1,535.
What are her ingredients to longevity? She never smoked, “or seldom had a social drink,” said Berndt.
Born in Detroit in 1912, she married Henry Grabenstein, Nov. 9, 1935, and continued to live in the Motor City. She worked as a comptometer operator for Parke-Davis and had an office window overlooking the Detroit River. Her husband worked for Detroit Edison for many years.
The couple enjoyed traveling and camping, making it to all 50 states and Germany, but during their excursions in Michigan, they took a liking to Rogers City and decided to retire here in the early 1970s. They purchased a home along South Third Street and became members of Westminster Presbyterian Church, where she sang in the choir. Henry passed away in 1985.
Marion still enjoys knitting, working crossword puzzles, watching television game shows and keeping in touch with family and friends through her computer. She drove a vehicle until she was 98.
A party was conducted on her birthday a month ago. It was a celebration shared with family, friends and the other residents and staff at Golden Beach Manor. “Cake and ice cream were served to about two dozen people in attendance,” said Berndt.
Marion came from a family of teachers, but nobody reached 100. However, Henry’s mother lived to 102.
It makes Henry and Marion’s daughters, Barbara of Rogers City and Elaine Lyons of Cheboygan, wonder how long they will live. Like Marion, they will have to take it one birthday at a time to find out.