TIPP CITY — One of Miami County’s most recent centenarians, Frances Mauchamer, said a lifetime of working hard has kept her going.
From working on the farm as a young girl to working well beyond retirement age, Frances has always stayed busy. She was born in Fletcher in 1917, lived in Piqua, Covington, Troy and Sarasota, Fla., and now resides at Liberty Commons in Tipp City, where she celebrated her 100th birthday on Feb. 17.
“I’ve worked all my life. I worked in a factory, I worked at home,” she said.
Frances is the second of her siblings to reach the age of 100, following behind her sister, 101-year-old Lucille Sansam.
“The whole family — and all the girls — are so stubborn. They’re a stubborn bunch,” her daughter, Connie Thompson, said. “They’re tough.”
“I think we grew up that way. We always had to work, no matter what,” Frances added. “I guess it didn’t hurt us, but we thought it did.”
She celebrated her 100th birthday last Saturday, surrounded by friends and family.
Frances grew up on a farm in Fletcher that was close to the local school, which she and her siblings walked to.
“We had to milk cows before school. That was terrible,” she recalled, laughing. “But we always had to work because Dad was a farmer.”
In her 100 years, Frances said she’s seen some sad times and some good times.
“Of course, that goes with it, don’t it?” she said.
During the Depression, farm people had it a little easier than city people, because they could at least grow their own food, Frances recalled.
“People used to stop for food. Of course we grew our own food. We wouldn’t let them in the house, but we always fed them,” she remembered.
The two oldest of seven siblings, Frances and her older sister Lucille left school to take care of the younger children when their mother died at the age of 34.
“It was kind of hard to keep up with school after that. It was hard,” Frances remembered. “But when you have to do it, you have to do it.”
Their father later remarried, and they gained two step-siblings.
Of the siblings, Frances, her sister, Lucille, and her brother, Clarence “Buck” Walker, are still living. Lucille is the eldest and Buck is the youngest.
She now lives just across the hall from Lucille and “what one does, the other does,” Frances said. The two have always been close and can often be found playing cards together.
“I know when my sister started going with a boy, we had to stay outside and all go in the house at the same time,” Frances said of Lucille. “We had to stay out and sit in the grass and play till she got back because my dad didn’t know she was dating. Till he got wise to us.”
Frances married her husband, Clarence Mauchamer, in 1937. The pair met at a square dance.
“No one was going to tell me yes or no, so I waited until I was old enough. And so I did,” she said.
Frances and Clarence had two children, a son and a daughter. Their son, James, passed away in 2015. The family lived mainly in Piqua and Covington, and Connie and James both graduated from Piqua High School.
“Dad was famous for moving,” Connie said. She recalled telling her parents when she went away to school, “Whatever you do, don’t move to Troy. And I’ll be darned if they didn’t move to Troy.”
Frances and her husband enjoyed traveling, and toured the United States and Europe together.
Frances worked at Container Corporation in Piqua before retiring and moving to Florida with Lucille in the late ’70s. Together, they worked cleaning houses until Lucille turned 90.
“We never advertised at all and we had so many people, we had to turn them down,” she said.
The sisters returned to Ohio to be closer to their family. Frances’ daughter Connie lives in Enon and visits frequently, and Lucille’s children live nearby as well.
Frances has five grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
While Frances said she hasn’t been 100 long enough to be able to say for sure what it feels like, she added, “I got this far, I may as well keep on going!”
Reach Cecilia Fox at [email protected]