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Friday, 29 April 2016 10:18

At 108, Hazel Schuth may be Walworth County's oldest resident

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Maureen Darling, left, listens to her mother, Hazel Schuth, share stories during a recent visit at Golden Years of Walworth. At 108, Schuth could be the county’s oldest resident. Schuth grew up in the Chicago suburbs and once had a summer home in Lake Geneva. She has lived at Golden Years for about nine years. Maureen Darling, left, listens to her mother, Hazel Schuth, share stories during a recent visit at Golden Years of Walworth. At 108, Schuth could be the county’s oldest resident. Schuth grew up in the Chicago suburbs and once had a summer home in Lake Geneva. She has lived at Golden Years for about nine years. Terry Mayer/staff

VILLAGE OF WALWORTH -- To say that Hazel Schuth has lived a long and fulfilled life would be an understatement.

Schuth, 108, who is set to turn 109 in July, said she does not feel her age, even though she’s likely one of the oldest or maybe even the oldest county resident.

Born in 1907, Schuth says her upcoming birthday, "doesn’t feel any different than if I was turning 10."

Chicago Cubs fans will note that 1907 was the year the team won its first World Series. A year later, in 1908, was the year they won their last.

( More: Lake Geneva 100-year-olds treasure the past, enjoy today )

Over the years, Schuth has seen two World Wars, the Great Depression and the Great Recession.

She’s also seen the invention of television, cars, computers and the iPhone.

Schuth’s family is planning a large party for her to celebrate her birthday. A party also is being planned at Golden Years of Walworth, which Schuth calls home.

"I want a big (party) this year," Schuth said.

"I’ve invited the whole family to come, from the East Coast and West Coast. They’re excited," said Maureen Darling, Schuth’s daughter. "We’ve had some RSVPs, and they said they’re going to try to get here, so that’s exciting."

The staff at Golden Years held a party for Schuth last year to celebrate her 108th birthday.

"Last year, we lined the dining room with 108 paper candles, and this year we’re going to need more paper for another candle," said Chris Lynch, an employee at Golden Years.

"Last year, the staff wrote 108 things they liked about her," Darling added. "It was very nice."

Schuth has lived at Golden Years since 2007. She started out living in the apartments and then was moved to the assisted living facility. Now she lives in the health care section.

"So, she’s tried all three spots here (at Golden Years)," Darling said.

Schuth said she enjoys living at Golden Years and the staff takes good care of her and the other residents.

"I think they’re very friendly. They do everything they can to make everyone happy," Schuth said. "The food is good. The paintings on the wall are fascinating."

At 108, Schuth tries to remain active. Some of her favorite activities include playing bingo and cards with her daughter.

"I usually win (at cards)," Schuth said.

Schuth has three children, nine grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. She lived most of her life in the Chicago suburbs and has worked as a secretary and a bookkeeper for her husband’s commercial arts business.

Schuth and her husband, Otho, purchased a summer home in Lake Geneva when Darling was about 10 years old.

"We came up (to Lake Geneva) in the summertime and during the holidays," Schuth said. "We had a big potbelly stove in the living room."

One of her most memorable experiences was meeting her would-be husband while at a lake.

"She wasn’t a swimmer, so somebody rode her out on a raft, and this handsome guy came swimming up and stole her heart away," Darling said. "I don’t know how she got off the raft, but that’s the story we got anyway."

Another one of Schuth’s favorite memories was flying on an airplane for the first time in 1957 to visit her first grandchild.

"I don’t remember how old I was," Schuth said. "I flew to California."

"When I was a little girl, we didn’t have (a car)," she said. "We got around by streetcars."

Schuth said some of her favorite activities as a child included ice skating and shopping in downtown Chicago.

"I started ice skating when I was in eighth grade. We had good winters, so we dressed accordingly," Schuth said. "We would take the streetcar or bus downtown for shopping. We had Marshall Fields ..."

Schuth said one change she has noticed over the years is how men treat women.

"(Men) treated us very nicely. They treated women much better than they do today," Schuth said. "Today, they don’t pull chairs out for women or open doors for them, but women’s rights have become better."

Schuth said she also recalled how doctors often made house calls when she was younger.

"Mom’s story is that the doctor would go down wherever his run was and deliver babies, and at the end of the week he would go over and register them," Darling said. "So, you may not get your exact time or birth date unless he was a really good record keeper, because they didn’t run over and put your name down like they do now. When you’re in the hospital now, they register you right away."

Schuth’s mother came to the United States from Ireland, and her father came to the Midwest from the Northeast.

"(Her mother) was first generation from Ireland, and her dad came across the United States in a covered wagon from the northeast, but I don’t know where he was from originally," Darling said.

Golden Years has two other residents who also are 100 years old. Marijule Shields turned 100 years in March and has lived at Golden Years for nine years. Blanche Peters is set to turn 101 years old in June. She has lived at Golden Years for three years.

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