Centenarian Still Serves Church

Not every 100-year-old celebrates her birthday doing "business as usual," but Bessie Obert (Freeman) McGuire was at her volunteer post at the Milton Church, in Milton-Freewater, Ore., on her 100th birthday May 10, photocopying and stuffing inserts into the 150 worship service bulletins she runs every week. For McGuire, this job is a service of love and represents her strong desire to be actively involved in her community.

Nearly 100 family and friends from across the country and overseas celebrated her birthday a few days later in the church fellowship hall. Many of the colorful and unique quilts McGuire has made and shared were on display during the event.

McGuire doesn’t sit at home bored. More than 35 years ago she began hand-stitching quilts and has hand-stitched about 50 full-size bed quilts, including many for family members. She sent 40 tied quilts to an African orphanage, and she has given eight quilts to her local Blue Mountain Television to use as fundraising gifts.

Through an employee and friend at a cancer center, McQuire has donated about 10 of her quilts each year for especially needy patients. She and a couple of friends have knitted or crocheted about 90 lap warmers for sick people. A few children at the Portland Shriner’s Hospital have also received quilts.

Born on the north fork of the Walla Walla River in 1912, McGuire grew up in Baker County, Ore., where her father worked their homestead near Sparta. At age 13, while living on the homestead, she was in charge of three siblings and the necessary chores for almost a month while her parents were away on an emergency. Later, while working at a dairy in Lincoln City, Ore., she hand-milked 11 cows twice a day, every day — a true pioneer.

McGuire worked for the Harris Pine Mills organization for nearly 40 years in various capacities, including manager of Harris Building Supply in Pilot Rock, Ore.

She recently told a friend, "I never have time to get bored." When she easily renewed her eight-year driver’s license at age 92, she told her friends, "I don’t think I’ll renew this next time." Though she only drives the few blocks back and forth to the church on Thursdays, she recently changed her mind and had her unrestricted driver’s license renewed. She is proud of the fact that she is still alert enough to safely make the short journey each week.

One of her greatest delights is to have members of her Bible study class to her house for a potluck from time to time. McGuire enjoys living life to the fullest and still enjoys reading about current events and other items of significant value, especially those dealing with Bible prophecy.

September 01, 2012 / Upper Columbia Conference