By Cody Willoughby
TROY — After nearly 100 years, time is still rich and purposeful for Pauline Gillette.
The Troy resident is set to reach her landmark centenarian birthday on Tuesday, Feb. 20, and insists that all her goals for the future remain the same as they are in the present — to cook and bake like there’s no tomorrow.
“I just love to keep busy,” Pauline stated casually.
Pauline was born Feb. 20, 1918 in Miamisburg, Ohio. The second of eight siblings, she lived on a family farm with her mother and father, her older brother, Dean, her younger sisters, Lucille, Francis, Elsa Lee, Etty Mae, and Alberta, and her younger brother, Frank.
According to Pauline, her early life taught her many of the skills that she still utilizes today.
“My parents had their farm around Brookville,” Pauline said. “My daddy made a wooden box for me to stand on, and on an old coal stove, I learned to cook. I was 9 years old. Later on, I started working in the fields. I harvested tobacco and corn. I milked cows. I did all the farm work. I learned all of that from 9 years old onward.”
She graduated school from Kettering in 1936, and married her first husband in 1938.
Pauline used her experience working with food on her family farm to craft a long-term career in cooking.
“I worked in a restaurant for 47 years,” Pauline said. “I cooked for Moraine Lodge.”
She had no children of her own, but according to family members, Pauline did her part in helping to raise the family.
“I think she did have kids,” said nephew Bill Shetterly. “All her nieces and nephews were raised like they were hers. She had my younger siblings and I all the time. When my mother worked, we would always spend time at her place.”
Pauline met her current husband, Bill Gillette, while working in the restaurant business.
“I knew her from way back,” Bill said. “I worked with her brother, and always ate at the restaurant where she worked. After my wife had passed away, and she was single, too, we got together and decided to get married.”
Pauline and Bill married on Aug. 28, 2008, and have since enjoyed a retired life at their residence in Troy, where Bill tends to his seven horses at the Miami County Fairgrounds, and Pauline continues to do what she does best.
“I still cook. I still bake. I still wash and work in my flower garden. I’m busy all the time. Oh, and I dance — I love to dance.”
When asked to detail her favorite music, Pauline said, “I like slow music — we play lots of country-western.”
Pauline has enjoyed living in Troy, but based on her experience, life here has been similar to life in Dayton.
“They’re both alike, really,” Pauline said. “In Dayton, there were places where I didn’t know how to get around, and it’s the same way with Troy. I know some places, but in others I get confused, just like Dayton.”
Twice a year, Pauline and Bill vacation in Spanish, Ontario, traveling there themselves by car.
“It’s beautiful,” Pauline said. “You go to the Sioux, and drive east almost 200 miles. Along the water, we have a cabin. We go up there, and we fish and take walks. I cook while we’re up there, too.”
Pauline voiced that the key to a long, fruitful life simply lies in working hard and always finding things to do.
“I’m working all the time,” Pauline said. “I wash windows and polish woodwork. When I’m not, I ride the treadmill and the stationery bicycle. I used to get out and walk, but I’m a little bit leery of walking by myself. When we go to the grocery or Walmart, though, I get a good walk out there. I don’t need much sleep, either. I’m a light sleeper. I just keep very busy.”
Reach Cody Willoughby at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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