Schuyler woman celebrates 106th birthday with family, caretakers

November 24, 2018

Margaret Pekarek on Monday, Nov. 19, received a quality rendition of Happy Birthday from caregivers and family members at Schuyler Care and Rehabilitation before being presented a slice of cake in her honor.

Celebrating another year of life is something that the Schuyler woman has become pretty used to as she’d done it 105 times prior to Monday afternoon.

At 106, Pekarek is by far the most seasoned resident living at the care facility, which houses 25 people in its skilled care section and 14 people in its assisted living housing, according to Activities Director Irma Cueva.

Next month, Schuyler Care has a resident turning 102 and another birthday celebration will occur, but that’s still a far cry from 106. Even more remarkable, Pekarek didn’t enter the facility until she turned 103 and lived independently up until that time, according to her niece, Judy Hellmers.

“She drove to the church, bank, post office and grocery store,” Hellmers said while accompanied by her husband, Tom. “She did that all up until she was 103.”

Prior to living in Schuyler, Pekarek and her late husband, Joseph, farmed for numerous years on a plot of ground located on the outskirts of Dodge. In 1969, the duo moved to Schuyler after stepping away from the occupation. The farm, Judy said, still remains in the family.

Ironically, for 10 years (1969-1979) Pekarek worked inside of the facility she now calls home in the dietary and housekeeping department.

“They were both work,” Pekarek said, with a smile.

The centenarian has started slowing down a little bit and she’s quite hard of hearing, but that hasn’t stopped the Hellmers, who live in Fremont, from swinging by and spending quality time with her. Judy said that Pekarek and her husband never had any children of their own, so the relationship forged with her nieces and nephews proved to be strong.

“Margaret is a very kind, caring and compassionate person,” Judy said. “I guess if I could have inherited any qualities from her, it would be that. She’s always been understanding, and she’s very special to every one of her nieces and nephews. Such a special lady.”

Pekarek said that there’s no special trick or remedy she can attribute to her longevity. Her older sister, Elizabeth, nearly hit the 100-year mark before passing away at the age of 99.

Cueva, who has known Pekarek for about six months since beginning work at Schuyler Care, said that she truly is remarkable. She and her staff wanted to celebrate the woman’s life because there’s no guarantee of how much longer she will remain in their lives.

Some days, Cueva said, Pekarek wakes up and wonders why she is still alive and kicking.

“And I just say, ‘because, your number hasn’t come up yet,’” Cueva said. “And then she always just cracks up laughing because she will say, ‘well, I’m ready to go,’ and I say, ‘well, he isn’t quite ready for you.’”

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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