By David Fleet
Goodrich — Ask Goodrich’s newest centenarian Barbara Horton’s formula for longevity and she’ll answer simply, “I’ve always been optimistic.”
“It’s been a good life,” said Barbara, who will celebrate 100 with friends and family on Aug. 12.
Barbara’s family agree she’s always been very positive and continues to view life through rose colored glass. She eats well (bacon and eggs for breakfast), stays active and refrains from gossip while treating others how you want to be treated.
Barbara (Scranton) Horton was born in Atlas Township, Aug. 12, 1923 in a farm home near Green and Ridge roads.
Barbara and then soon to be husband Richard Horton were Goodrich High School sweethearts. The couple met during a talent show at the Atlas Grange Hall near Perry and Gale roads. Richard was playing the banjo with his band, while Barbara, then a high school sophomore, was a tap dancer.
“He thought she was pretty cute,” said Babette Frailey, daughter.
The couple soon started dating not long after their first meeting and married on June 19, 1942, six weeks after her graduation from high school.
Following the outbreak of World War II Richard enlisted in the Army Signal Corps and over the next year-and-a-half was stationed at numerous encampments including Camp Crowder, Mo., Camp Barkeley, Texas, Fort Polk, La. and Ft. Sam Houston, Texas.
“Barbara had an old jalopy and on her own traveled to all Richard’s camps,” said Babette. “The cross country drive was a challenge since gas was rationed due to the war effort then too.”
In 1944, Richard was at Camp Shanks, N.Y., where he was set to depart for France on a small merchant ship, the Santa Rosa. That’s where he received news the couple’s first child, Rick, was born on Sept. 29.
“Barbara was in Wheelock Hospital holding Rick and heard footsteps coming down the hall,” Babette said. “It was Richard who had caught a bus and then a train from New York, just before the troops were beginning to leave for Europe. He walked right into her room and spent about a half hour with Rick and mom before he had to ship out. Basically, ‘I was AWOL,’ dad later told us. The Army never Ok’d the trip.”
Barbara and then newborn Rick lived with her mother Thelma Hartwig while Richard was in Europe during WWII. The couple purchased two lots on the Goodrich Mill Pond in 1946 where they built a home they lived in for more than 70 years.
Barbara worked at several jobs in the community, including The Reminder newspaper and as an operator at the local phone company in Goodrich.
“She had a cot right in the building,” said Babette. “So she worked the night shift and connected the calls for the community.”
In 1959, Barbara went to work in the cafeteria for the Goodrich Schools, where she worked for 28 years. She retired in 1987.
In her retirement Barbara was a seamstress and volunteer delivering food to patients at first Wheelock Hospital then Genesys, assisting Goodrich Hospice and the Goodrich Women’s Club.
“If the Hospice patient was too sick she would feed them,” said Babette. “Barbara was also one of the Goodrich Glamour Girls.”
The couple were also members of the Goodrich United Methodist Church for many years.
Barbara and Richard traveled often spending winters in Phoenix, Ariz., while spending summers in their Goodrich home. Richard died May 16, 2017 at the age of 95.
The couple were married for 74 years, had four children, Rick (Elaine) Horton, 1944; Cheryl Najar, 1946; Suzanne (Stanley) Koon, 1949 and Babette (Bob) Frailey, 1954. with six grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and one great-great-granddaughter.
By David Fleet