BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Editor
Even during this COVID-19 pandemic, two Clarkston women were able to celebrate their 100th birthdays recently, albeit in a modified setting.
Esther Armstrong and Madelyn Stobbe hit the century mark over the past month, and each were honored with drive-by parties.
What is the secret to living 100 years and feeling young at the same time?
“Oh dear, that’s hard to say,” Armstrong said. “I would say just living a clean, Godly life. I grew up on a farm in Iowa; I was a country girl. I have children and grandchildren in six different states, and I love them all. I lived sort of a sheltered life and certainly can’t go anywhere right now. We do have family church on social media that I attend every Sunday since I can’t go to church, which has helped a lot. My family is very important to me.
“I’m a great great grandmother and I see all of my grandkids and great grandkids on social media. I love seeing them and having all the young people in my family. I love that. The young people in the family keep everyone else young.”
Armstrong’s surprise party was April 25, while Stobbe’s was May 13.
Stobbe’s drive-by was held outside of the Autumn Ridge assisted living facility where family, friends, f
ive Oakland County Sheriff’s squad cars and several Independence Township fire trucks made an appearance.
“Madelyn is the sweetest lady and is still spry for her age,” said Andrea Cicchini, Stobbe’s granddaughter-in-law. “She was a World War II bride to a combat veteran. She volunteered most of her adult life, even into her 90s to help disabled children. She was a member of the Optimist Club, and even translated books into Braille for the blind.”
Armstrong and her late husband Chester had four children. She has 14 grandchildren, all of whom are married, totaling 28 grandchildren. She has 45 great grandchildren, eight of whom are married, totaling 53 great grandchildren. She has 10 great great grandchildren with two more on the way for a grand total of 101 descendants.
Still, the surprise party on April 25 was humbling for Armstrong.
“I had so much fun,” she said. “I can’t believe that my family pulled this off and didn’t even tell me. I’m just glad I stayed alive the whole time to enjoy it. I couldn’t believe all the people, family and friends that drove by to see me. I got lots of cards, flowers and fun things, too. My kids should have told me they were planning this. It wasn’t fair they didn’t tell me. I can’t believe they did all this for me. I couldn’t hug any of them or even talk to them, but it was so good seeing them in their cars, waving to them, and knowing they came to see me, even at a distance.”
Armstrong added that her advice for future generations to live a long, happy life is simple.
“Having a faith is really important and having a close family that has a strong faith is good, too,” Armstrong said. “I always say, ‘The family that prays together, stays together.’”