103 and counting: Vasey reflects on a long and happy life on her birthday

Robert Maharry
The Grundy Register

GRUNDY CENTER- Although she’s one of the oldest residents of Grundy County, you wouldn’t know it by spending an hour with Viola Vasey.


Vasey, who turned 103 last Friday, is still active, still keeping an eye on her garden and still living life to the fullest at Arlington Place in Grundy Center even with the new restrictions in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.


A native of rural Tama County, Vasey grew up on a farm before deciding she’d had “all the farming she wanted” and relocating to Omaha.


“I was tired of having to pick corn,” she said.


She got married, and her husband’s job in the military took the family all the way to Sacramento, California. When he passed away in 1984, she returned to Grundy Center, because, in her words, it had a post office, a hospital and mail delivery, and Vasey became an active traveler with the bank club.


“I like this town. It has a lot to offer,” she said.


This year, Vasey’s friends surprised her with a convertible ride on Thursday night, and she got a special roast beef meal to celebrate 103 years on Friday. She’s now the only member of her immediate family still alive, and most of her friends have passed away too. Although she never had children, she stays busy keeping up on the lives of her nieces who live in the area.


COVID-19 has greatly changed the way nursing homes do business and restricted visitors in an effort to slow the spread, and Vasey admits that it’s been difficult not to see her family.


“They used to come over all the time and give you a hug, and you can’t do that at all here,” she said. “I miss all of that closeness with the family.”


As someone who was born during the last worldwide pandemic, Vasey doesn’t have many memories of the Spanish Flu outbreak, and she’s proud to have lived through both of them. She’s looking forward to being able to go shopping, picnicking and enjoy other activities she loves, and her niece has helped her plant her garden this year.


Vasey isn’t sure how many more birthdays she’ll get to celebrate, but she says she’s living day-by-day and finding joy where she can. That’s the only advice she can offer to others who hope to live a long and healthy life: take it day by day, keep moving, look up and don’t sit in a rocking chair.


“Too many people, when they get old, they sit down, and that’s it,” she said. “You’ve got to be active and look at the positive side of things.”


The Grundy Register

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