Centenarians lead by example [UPDATED]Published 5:00am Monday, June 17, 2013 Updated 7:03am Monday, June 17, 2013
This past Monday our family bid farewell to Mary Frances Hoganson, 101, a long-time resident of West Fargo. Mary was a member of my late mother’s side of our family, a descendant of Irish immigrants. Our forebearers settled on a farm near Mapleton, N.D., in the mid-1880s.
“Living to 100 used to be rare, but not anymore,” said author Linda Abbit. “Centenarians are one of the fastest growing segments of the population in the United States.”
The 2010 United States census logged approximately 53,000 people age 100 or older. Another half-million centenarians are projected to join the ranks by 2050.
“Almost all centenarians say that keeping their minds active is one secret to healthy aging,” said Abbit. “Exercising and staying mobile are almost equally important.”
That certainly was true for Mary Hoganson.
She was the great-granddaughter of John O’Reardon and Mary Catherine Williams McAuliffe who were married in 1861 at Curragh, Kildare, Ireland. On Monday Mary Hoganson joined them at the family gravesites at Holy Cross Cemetery in north Fargo.
Mary was born at St. John’s Hospital in Fargo on Dec. 8, 1911, to Edwin and Letitia “Dottie” (Thompson) Robinson. Because she was born on a Holy Day, the Immaculate Conception, the nuns called her Little Mary.
She grew up on a farm near Mapleton and attended the Dobrinz country school which now is located at Bonanzaville Pioneer Village in West Fargo.
Also at Bonanzaville is the Dodge house which was located close to the original McAuliffe farmsite south of Mapleton. Mary Dodge Woodward kept a diary which became a book, “The Checkered Years,” recalling life near Mapleton from 1884 to 1889.
North Dakota gained statehood in 1889, and before that my great-grandparents were proud to be living in Dakota Territory.
Mary received her teaching certificate at Moorhead State Teachers’ College and taught grade school in West Fargo from 1928 to 1935. She was united in marriage to Clarence Hoganson at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Fargo in 1935.
They enjoyed dancing to the music of the Big Band Era, playing cards with friends, pheasant hunting and horseback riding. She worked part-time at the post office for many years before becoming a librarian for the West Fargo School District in 1965.
“It was a job that suited her well because of her true love of books and her kind way with children,” said her daughter, Anne, one of four children.
Mary’s interests were many and varied, which no doubt contributed to her longevity.
She was an avid reader and loved all card games. It was a pleasure for her to be part of Bridge clubs where she made many friends who remained near and dear to her. Mary’s children and grandchildren looked forward to playing cards and games with her whenever they visited.
Mary, a widow since 1977, loved her daily newspaper crossword puzzles and enjoyed handiwork of all kinds. She loved to travel.
“My mother knew the keys to happiness,” said daughter Anne who had Mary live out her latter years with Anne’s family in Hazen, N.D. “She gave of herself freely, volunteering at church, as an election judge and with the public library board.”
America’s centenarians are generally content and believe staying active is key to longevity, and some are even using social media and email to stay in touch with family and friends.
“Reflecting fondly and confidently on the choices they’ve made throughout their lives helps the longest-living Americans maintain a sense of satisfaction and well-being that’s vital to healthy aging,” said Dr Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer of the United Healthcare. “Only six percent would have wanted to have more money, compared to 26 percent of baby boomers.”
Randall said that whether it’s family, a faith-based organization or friends, feeling connected to others is very important to health and well-being.
Mary Hoganson would certainly agree.