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Amazing Grace Freeman at 100
Grace Freeman is a firm believer in "right living." To her that means believing in God, staying productive with chores, delving in interests, and eating foods that don't clog the arteries.

As proof the Keyes woman turned 100 on Friday.

"Is that something?" asked Freeman. "I have a lot of sense still."

I'll say.

Freeman lives with her youngest son at the Modesto Western Village Mobilehome Park, home since 1988. She regularly attends church at Sovereign Grace Church in Modesto and she tends to her garden.

Despite some health challenges over the years, Grace said that "the Lord helps me with it." She sustained a broken neck in 2003 when she fell out of bed while sleeping one night, quickly adding that she doesn't drink.

Every day Grace cooks and cleans, tends to her yard work, mends clothing, and visits with friends. She also enjoys crocheting and needlework.

"I have more friends than I deserve," she said. Some of her friends are at the Ceres Senior Citizens Club where she is a member.

Born June 6, 1908 in Madison County, Ark., Mrs. Freeman worked most of her life as a stenographer/secretary. She received her education in Arkansas and was 20 years old when she took a friend's offer to come to Dallas, Texas, to live with her. She first found work at a Sears & Roebuck mail order facility. She had to quit in her seventh year because the company had a rule against female employees being married. Grace married Charles Douglas Freeman, a fellow Sears employee.

"I never questioned them," said Grace. "That was their policy."

Apparently before today's laws protecting females in the workplace.

They had a child, Charles Douglas Freeman Jr. who joined her first child from a previous marriage. Donald Douglas Marshall lives in Modesto. The 15-year marriage ended in 1948 when Grace became a widow at age 40. She never remarried.

She then went to work for the city of Dallas for a year, then for the Treasury Department. Grace then found work at Seagoville, Texas, working for a correctional facility operated by the Department of Justice. She recalls that the inmates were more of white- and blue-collar criminals like embezzlers and bootleggers.

"The men respected me," said Grace. She saved two "real nice" letters from inmates when they left the facility. She retired after 21 years in 1975.

Mrs. Freeman came to California when Donald asked her to consider living here. After putting up with the midwest humidity and rain for 60 years, California is her favorite place. The area between Ceres and Keyes is a nice quiet place for the rest of her life. She was especially enjoying Friday's unseasonably cool breeze that fanned across her porch. She pays no attention to the faint roar of freeway traffic also blowing in.

"I'm not as sharp as I used to be, of course," said Freeman. Maybe but she also blows people away with the spryness of a 70-year-old. She springs off to fetch a piece of needlework that display her skills, apologizing for having to use a cane to get around.

Grace walks down to the clubhouse every Wednesday to pick up her Courier, which she is forced to read by magnifying glass. She made me blush saying my opinion pieces make her day. Grace also loves to read "Sound Off!"

"I've been busy my whole life. If I had to do nothing I'd go crazy."

Some people don't need much in life to be content. The key is that they let the simple thing be enough. It's been enough to carry Grace to an age and condition at that age - worthy of consideration.

In my 25 years as a journalist, I've done stories on handfuls of 100-year-olds. Some of those couldn't talk because their mind was gone years ago. Of those as sharp as Mrs. Freeman, I always want to know their secret to having made it this far with senses intact. Her answer is a simple: "God's will. I don't know."

Others have told me the importance of keeping the mind active. Grace said the same thing. But as I walked away from our little visit, she shouts out one more tip: "Clean living. And I don't eat none of that greasy food."

Newspaper people don't make the greatest money. But there are some experiences that more than make up for a huge salary. Things like meeting people like Grace Freeman.