2017-03-16 / News

Burton resident turning 100

810-452-2645 • tterry@mihomepaper.com

Mary (GiGi) Herrick will have family to celebrate her 100th birthday with. Pictured is (left to right) Judy Bolinger, Mary (GiGi) Herrick, Sandy Blondin and Gary Blondin. 
Photos by Tanya Terry Mary (GiGi) Herrick will have family to celebrate her 100th birthday with. Pictured is (left to right) Judy Bolinger, Mary (GiGi) Herrick, Sandy Blondin and Gary Blondin. Photos by Tanya Terry BURTON — Mary (GiGi) Herrick has seen a lot in her century – two World Wars, the destruction of the Hindenburg and many of the sights around America.

Herrick turns 100 on March 30 and has no real secret to her longevity.

“She has done anything she wants,” said her daughter, Judy Bolinger. “The doctor said I don’t know what you’re doing, but keep on doing it.”

Herrick smoked about 40 years ago, but gave it up. She normally drinks alcohol free beverages.

“She has indulged in some adult beverages,” said Sandy Blondin, another of Herrick’s daughters. “She had a beer about two weeks ago.”

Herrick was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She went to Europe when she was eight. Her mother went along with Herrick and two of her five siblings to settle property there after Herrick’s father died.

One day, the kids were sledding down a hill in a large dish pan for fun.

“I had a lot of trouble there,” Herrick said. “I fell on the ice and broke my front teeth.”

Each child had a job. Herrick’s job was to take care of the horses.

Herrick lost her oldest sister, Anna, who was 16, while she was in Europe.

Herrick decided she wanted to come back to the United States. Her mother told her she better go right away if she wanted to go because World War II was starting. Herrick went across the ocean by herself.

Herrick saw the historic Hindenburg passenger airship as it caught fire before it was destroyed on May 6, 1937 in New Jersey.

“Like anybody else, I ran,” Herrick said.

Herrick began nursing training around age 20.

“I thought it was a good thing to do,” she said of nursing.

Bolinger followed in her mother’s footsteps as a nurse. Herrick’s granddaughter, Vickie Schlak, became a nurse, as well.

Herrick’s mother came to Flint and Herrick’s brother wrote her and said Herrick had to take care of her mom. Herrick had to give up her nursing training to do so. Herrick’s mother couldn’t speak very good English.

“I had to do it,” Herrick said.

Herrick worked in a restaurant her future husband’s sister and brother owned. Herrick’s eventual sister-in-law wanted Herrick to meet her brother, William.

“She was not impressed,” Blondin said. “He was an oiler so he was greasy and not dressed nice.”

William kept asking her out. Finally, Herrick gave him a shot. The first time he took her out he told her “no beer gardens” (like bars now) and “no dance halls” (like nightclubs now). The pair ended up going to a beer garden that night where a European band played and a lot of Herrick’s friends were.

“It wasn’t love at first sight, but when he got dressed up, I said he’s not too bad,” Herrick said.

William had a Jeep Willy hot rod car. Herrick told him she didn’t like the car because it was too noisy.

“So, he sold it and got a Studebaker car, which they don’t make anymore,” Blondin said.

Herrick got married in 1939. She had her first child in 1940.

Herrick worked at AC Spark Plug, where she built defensive products. The plant was surrounded by wire.

Blondin and Bolinger also worked at AC Spark Plug. Two of Herrick’s sonin laws and a grandson did, as well.

“It was good,” Herrick said of working at AC.

Herrick had her last child in 1951. She has eight grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren.

Herrick was 48 when her first two daughters got married. Her daughters said she was not happy at that time, and was in fact ready to “kill” them because they got married two months apart.

“It was hard,” Herrick said of her two first daughters getting married in this manner. “But, I thought, well, I can’t keep them from getting married.”

Herrick and her husband did a lot of traveling together. They went to Florida before Disney World existed, to Mount Rushmore and to New Hampshire.

Eventually though, in 1998, when Herrick was 81, her husband died.

“It was bad, very bad,” Herrick said of his death.

Herrick received her last driver’s license at age 90. The Secretary of State workers made a big deal about her age and seemed concerned.

“She got 100 percent on the written test,” Bolinger said.

About four years ago, Herrick moved into The Pines of Burton assisted living facility. There, she got reunited with her neighbor and friend from the 1950s, Barbara Kittel.

“They used to talk across the fence all the time,” said Blondin.

Herrick is in Kittel’s room until about 1 a.m. most nights, talking and watching television.

Although Herrick has a wheelchair, she is still mobile. So, she walks to the room, whether Kittel, who is also a night owl, is up or not.

She also said she likes the food the facilities’ cook, Sandy Brockman, prepares for her. She said there isn’t anyone at the facility she does not like.

“I like it,” Herrick said of The Pines.

Herrick said she does not plan to change her lifestyle once she turns 100.

“I want to do the same thing I’ve been doing,” she said.

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