With Family, and Friends

Mary Rigsby continues an independent lifestyle

By Craig Reed

Mary Rigsby says she really was not expecting anything special on her recent birthday. She turned 100 on September 10.

Mary says she was realistic about the century milestone, basically accepting it as just another day.

“It just means I get tired more easily,” she says. “My mind tells me I can do things, but my body says I can’t. I just feel thankful every morning when I can get out of bed and set my feet on the floor.”

Despite the tiredness factor, Mary, a Dorena resident, lives alone, does her own cooking and cleaning, and tends to her garden and yard. She gets help with the latter and with transportation and some other activities from her son Larry and his wife, Betty, who live next door.

Mary says the keys to reaching 100 include working and being active for many years, not drinking or smoking, and having longevity in her family’s genes. Her mother, Nellie Jane Gage, lived to 109.

“She is a really great, great mother,” Larry says. “She’s always there to help. She’s probably helped every member of the family. She was never much for chastising us. She’s always been a positive person.”

Mary experienced quite the transition as a young adult, moving to Bridge, Oregon, in 1936 after graduating from Garfield High School in Los Angeles a year earlier. At a welcoming party for the family in Bridge, Mary met James Rigsby. The two married in 1937.

James worked as a logger. The couple lived in Bridge and then in Riddle, before moving to Springfield, where James worked in a sawmill. Mary had at a couple different jobs before spending almost 23 years working in the office of the Emporium store in Eugene. She workeduntil she was 77 and was a long-time volunteer in the gift shop at theMcKenzie-Willamette Hospital

until retiring at age 92, when she quit driving.

“She has lived a normal hard-working life,” Larry says. “She’s very independent. She feels if you don’t earn it, you don’t deserve it.”

Mary and James had 62 years together before he died in 1999, one day before his 92nd birthday.

Mary says when she first starting working outside of the home, it was a necessity to help with paying bills. When she was older, she continued to because she enjoyed working and volunteering with different people. She says she still has friends from those experiences.

“I enjoy being around people, helping people,” she says. “I think that is why God put us on this earth, to help as many others as we can.”

After she quit driving, Mary moved to Dorena to be closer to Larry and Betty.

Mary does not seem too concerned about the future. She says she is satisfied with her first 100 years, and has no expectations for her future.

“I’ve lived a good life, a very good life,” Mary says.