"We've Come a Long Way Baby"
Shortly after her birth on June 19, 1911, the priest was called to the hospital for fear she would not survive. Little did they know!
Frances McLaughlin Stauffacher celebrated her 105th birthday on June 19th with family and friends at Meth-Wick Community. At 5'0", the key to her longevity may be the charming wit and spunky personality befitting her Irish/Spanish heritage. Her grasp of over a century of history is clear and as she likes to say, "we've come a long way baby."
She converses just as easily about her childhood as she does the current events she garners from daily newspapers and CNN. She notices details and her husband George, a newspaper man, claimed, "Frances would stop the press for a comma!"
Her family moved from Kenwood to Cedar Rapids to enroll her in the second kindergarten class at Arthur Elementary School in Cedar Rapids. In 2015, she was an honored guest at Arthur's centennial celebration.
Frances attended Mount Mercy Junior College during the Great Depression. Living at home, she walked from 28th Street Drive SE and Second Avenue to the Mount Mercy campus twice a day. She was a member of the second graduating class of Mount Mercy Junior College in 1931 and went on to complete her bachelor's degree at Coe College.
As a young woman, Frances participated in "River Swim," a five-mile swim from "High Rock" (across Edgewood Road on Ellis Boulevard) to the "Northwestern Bridge" in downtown Cedar Rapids. She remembers the swim took all afternoon as they zigzagged down the river and then she adds, "I went dancing that night!"
During World War II, Frances joined the American Red Cross as a recreation worker in a military hospital. She later worked at Mayo General Hospital in Galesburg, Illinois. Frances and her husband George lived in Florida for 20 years before retiring in Cedar Rapids.
As a loyal alumna, Frances has been a faithful supporter of Mount Mercy for decades and she has rarely missed the annual Alumni Weekend. Still driving her trusty 1990's Buick at age 100, she made it clear she was not at all happy when Mount Mercy removed the main drive—forever changing access to the campus she knew so well.
On the lighter side, Frances proudly wears her Irish green on St. Patrick's Day and jokes, "I've been told that the first 100 years are the hardest."
It's no joke that Frances went off the high dive at age 90 and when Meth-Wick added two therapy pools this year, Frances donned a new swim suit and was the first resident to enter the pool.
Frances' passion for life has created opportunities for others. She established the George & Frances Stauffacher Endowed Scholarship at Mount Mercy in 2000. Frances has peace of mind knowing that the Stauffacher Endowed Scholarship will continue to grow and generate yearly scholarships long after she's gone. Years ago she also made provisions to boost the scholarship through her estate plan.
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