A popular fixture in the community, Marion Blake and her daughter Mary Blake — the retired director of Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District — live together. Marion will be 100 years old this year and a big celebration is planned.
“Marion Blake was an avid golfer, before age caught up with her,” Chelsea Gorrow wrote in a 2014 Daily Astorian profile. “She now uses a cane with four feet to get around. But that’s the only visible sign that she’s 96 years old. The petite and fit woman wears glittery nail polish, stylish white-framed glasses, pink lipstick and gold jewelry, including a beautiful bangle bracelet and fashionable rings. Her daughter shared that Marion Blake weighs the same as she did in college.”
Four years later, all still holds true. We caught up with the Blakes at their Seaside home, alongside canine friends Ruby and Sunshine.
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Q: When is your birthday?
Marion: April 29. I’ll be 100 in two-and-a-half months.
I was born in 1918 in Denver, Colorado. I was raised in Denver. My mother died when I was 13. And my father was a pharmacist. Actually, I had kind of a sad childhood, then I had a dynamite college career at Colorado State in Fort Collins.
I married the big man on campus. Football, basketball and track.
Q: You started a family?
Marion: We married and had our first child in 1941. My husband was a veterinarian. He taught medicine and surgery at the University of Missouri, and then we moved to Phoenix where he had a small animal clinic. I worked in the practice with him as surgical assistant and girl Friday. I played golf and had a lovely time at the salt mine.
Mary: My father’s father was also a veterinarian.
Q: Did you have other children?
Marion: I have three daughters. Two of them have gone to their happy hunting grounds. Very bad.
Mary: I was the baby and I wouldn’t have changed that for love or money.
Q: How did you get to Seaside?
Mary: This was the house my mother and sister and her husband decided to live in together. Once my mother settled in here, my oldest sister wanted to be close. Everybody was pretty happy. Unfortunately my sister’s husband got cancer, then he survived that. My sister got cancer, and she didn’t (survive). Her husband died of a broken heart.
Marion: I think I adjust to my circumstances. Two daughters and a husband gone. I’m super, super blessed to be living with my daughter. That’s what’s making my life so pleasant.
Q: You’ve always had a great relationship?
Marion: Very good.
Q: I don’t want to ask what is your secret … but what is your secret?
Marion: The secret is good genes, red wine and dark chocolate. And I like a dry “martooni.” It’s good for partying.
I’m still playing bridge four days a week. I play duplicate. I play at the Astoria Country Club, at the Bob Chisholm Community Center once a week and twice a week in Astoria at the senior center.
It’s fun, but it’s very competitive. I have good partners.
I watch a lot of TV.
Q: What do you like?
Marion: I watch Stephen Colbert. I am a night owl. I get in the sack and I watch until 1 a.m.
Q: And you wake up when?
Marion: I wake up at six and at seven. I don’t waste a lot of time sleeping too much.
Mary: She does her stretches when she gets up. She’s very flexible. She was a swimmer and swings on the swings higher than anybody else.
Marion: I’m a big sports fan.
Q: What’s your favorite sport?
Q: Pro or college?
Q: What’s your favorite team?
Marion: Well, the Seahawks.
Mary: And also the Denver Broncos. We were big fans when John Elway was the quarterback.
Q: Who’s your favorite president?
Marion: Oh, the one now! (rolls eyes.)
Mary: When Hillary was there it was really quite a moment to be able to vote for a woman president. She (Marion) follows that really closely.
Marion: I like Rachel Maddow. I like her coverage.
Q: Are there others in town who are your age?
Marion: I’m always the oldest one in the crowd.
Q: Any regrets?
Marion: No regrets over the years. Accent the positive.
Q: What do you have planned for your birthday?
Mary: We are going to do a party out at the club. We did a big party for her on the 90th with a slide presentation, so we were able to pull up some of the terrific pictures.
Q: Any goals for the new year?
Marion: Just play more bridge and kick butt.
Q: Whose butt are you going to kick? The other bridge players?
Marion: Oh yes, the opponents!
Mary: I always knew she was going to be 100, so I asked her, “When are you thinking about passing?” She said: “Oh, I think I’m going to live forever.”
I said, “Well, that’s very spiritual but what does that mean?” She said, “114, 117 — that would be OK.”
She’s a real inspiration. Whenever anything comes up, she’s always eager to get into the car, go for a walk with Ruby — it’s amazing.
And she didn’t want to go to assisted living. She said: “You know there are a lot of old people there.”
Marion: Heaven forbid assisted living! The way I feel now, I have a lot of time ahead of me on this planet.
Mary: She says: “I don’t mind a routine, but I hate a rut.”
R.J. Marx is The Daily Astorian’s South County reporter and editor of the Seaside Signal and Cannon Beach Gazette.