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Decker still going strong at 100

News editor

If well-wishers at Sadie Decker’s 100th birthday reception Sunday at Peabody Senior Center came looking for a secret formula for longevity, they likely left disappointed.

“Oh heavens, I wouldn’t know,” Decker said. “I just lived one day at a time. I try to live my life every day as if it’s the last one.”

There’s little to suggest that last one will come any time soon.

“I just got my driver’s license renewed,” she said. “This way I can go to church, go to the grocery store, and go to the senior center. That’s the only reason I wanted my driver’s license.”

Decker’s active lifestyle includes attending services at Peabody United Methodist Church, bookkeeping for her farm, weekly pinochle games with friends at the senior center, reading, keeping up on politics, and Sunday visits by her eldest son, Rodger, who lives in El Dorado.

“Don’t get her started on politics,” Rodger said, smiling.

Sadie grew up on a farm south of Galva with five brothers and a sister and attended a country school through eighth grade. Life was simple and often austere during the Depression of the 1930s, she said.

“We knew Christmas morning we’d get up and we’d have an orange and a sack of candy and nuts at our plate, and that was it,” she said. “And maybe a little gift. We’d just get the things we needed, and everything else went by the wayside.”

Her education ended abruptly when she was a junior at Galva High School.

“It was during the Depression years, and all the roads into town were mud roads,” she said. “My brother decided he didn’t want to go to school anymore, and I knew they wouldn’t let me go to school by myself.”

She helped her mother with sewing and quilting and was a live-in housekeeper for two families in McPherson.

During that time, Sadie met LaVerne Decker after a Christmas practice at church one day. They dated sporadically and started going steady on her 21st birthday.

“We were just having fun, we were together, and I guess I just never thought he was ready to settle down,” she said.

However, LaVerne was serious enough to buy a farm near Peabody and then propose.

“I guess he figured after we’d been going together that long he planned on asking me and we’d have to have someplace to go,” Sadie said.

The Deckers married and moved to the farm in 1939, where they raised sons Rodger and Darrel. They stopped farming in 1987 but kept the farm and traveled throughout the country until LaVerne’s death in 1999. Sadie moved to a duplex in town shortly thereafter.

“It wasn’t hard because it seemed like we lived in an area where if somebody had trouble at night, they ended up at my place for help. In a way, I was glad to get away from there.”

Watching their parents, both boys picked up lessons that they’ve applied in their own lives.

“The ability to forgive each other,” Darrel said. “They did that well over the years, and it made them strong.”

Rodger noticed Sadie’s interactions with others.

“I’ve tried to treat people with a lot of respect, and that’s what Mom did,” he said. “She was always gracious to people. She was a good role model.”

Technology has changed radically during Sadie’s life, but she said it’s had a negative influence on how people interact, beginning in the 1940s and 50s.

“We visited more than we do now,” she said. “Every Saturday night you could come to town, bring your produce, sell your cream and eggs. Then you visited with all your neighbors. They were all in town. They parked on both sides and down the middle of the street. Everybody was in town. Then when television came along, slowly everything stopped. Everybody stayed home and watched television.”

Faith has been a constant in Sadie’s life, never more important than when LaVerne died.

“I wasn’t expecting that, wasn’t ready for it,” she said. “If it wouldn’t have been for my faith, I would’ve had a hard time. I hope the family has it, too.”

She recalled a recent conversation with Rodger in which they talked about end times.

“I finally said, ‘Rodger, the way I read my Bible, it can happen in the twinkling of an eye,’” she said. “Nobody knows. All that matters is that you’re ready.”

When time comes, Sadie won’t have any regrets.

“I just live each day as it comes and I have no ambition to accomplish something,” she said. “I figure I’ve lived my life, and I’m just enjoying myself.”

Last modified July 19, 2017

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