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People we know: Gilbert enjoys independence

Staff writer

Laurel Gilbert of Marion moved into Kansas Governor — and Marion County Record editor — Edward Hoch’s former home at 205 N. Lincoln St., Marion, in 1946, and she has lived there ever since.

Gilbert, now 91 years old, maintains her independence despite being legally blind for 18 years. Retinal degeneration runs in Gilbert’s family, she said.

She cooks, cleans, and gardens on her own. This spring she is growing radishes in a planter in her back yard. She also takes care of a dog, Scampy, a poodle and bichon mix.

“I love to garden when I can see to plant a garden,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert has a reading aid, a machine that displays enlarged type on a monitor. She has used one for about 15 years, allowing her to read things like food labels and newspapers.

“If I didn’t have it, I wouldn’t be able to read my medicine bottles,” Gilbert said.

She also likes listening to books on tape.

“I read a lot with talking books,” Gilbert said.

There are drawbacks to living alone, she said.

“I miss driving a car and going to see my sister,” Gilbert said. “It gets very lonely.

“When I get bored, I move furniture,” she said. She has not found the perfect arrangement, but “I’ve found some I like.”

Gilbert grew up in Garrison, Iowa and went to nursing school in Halstead. Gilbert moved to Marion in 1940 to work at the hospital.

“This was a really fabulous town when I moved to Marion,” she said.

There were more shops in town, as well as entertainment options, Gilbert said.

She married Karl Schroeder in 1941. He died in 1964. She remarried, to Eugene Gilbert, in 1968. He died in 2005.

Other than gardening, Gilbert enjoys going to church and listening to sports on television, especially baseball. She said she grew up playing sports, including basketball, softball, and tennis. She said she is enjoying the Kansas City Royals good season.

Last modified May 13, 2009

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