Age is just a number, and to Blanche Hendershot, it’s a magnificent three digits.
In honor of her 101st birthday today, Hendershot planned to take one last spin behind the wheel in her black 2006 Saturn Ion.
As her license expires today, she won’t be renewing it this time.
She stopped driving regularly five months ago out of respect for other drivers, realizing that it might not be safe anymore, she said.
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If she were in an accident, her fault or not, she said she worried she would undoubtedly shoulder the blame, despite the fact that in 84 years of driving she never received a ticket. The Saturn has just 12,567 miles on the odometer.
But the decision to give up driving was not an easy one.
“I’m going to miss driving to church and driving to see my friends,” Hendershot said.
She plans to keep the car, and whenever friends or family come over to drive her somewhere, they will use the Saturn.
The family will celebrate her birthday today with a dinner at The Pines Restaurant in Seymour, followed by Hendershot taking one last spin behind the wheel around the shopping center at 25th Street and Marr Road.
Hendershot purchased the Saturn new, demanding a black vehicle with just two doors.
“I’m very set in my ways,” Hendershot said with a chuckle. “When you’ve done what you wanted to do and lived your life the way you wanted to, and apparently I haven’t done such a bad job to live to be this old. But I still want to keep doing it.”
Hendershot was born three miles west of Taylorsville, an area that became Camp Atterbury, and moved to Columbus in 1932. During the past 83 years in Columbus, she has raised two sons, Dick and Chuck Lovelace, and is the proud grandmother to three grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
Hendershot has no plans to slow down. With the help of a walker, she gets around fine and can still play a tune or two on her organ, which sits in the middle of her living room.
Around her living room, the walls and shelves are covered with photos of five generations of her family. Many of them plan to attend today’s celebration.
“I’ve had a wonderful life,” Hendershot said. “We all get together on special occasions, and we have a get-together in the summer for everybody’s birthdays. We have a dinner for the whole family, and that’s just a special time.”
She has beaten cancer three times, and worked through a knee replacement and two hip replacements, all on her left side. She still does all the household chores on a daily basis, with the exception of running the sweeper.
She mowed her lawn regularly age 93. Two years later when her gutters became clogged with leaves, she called her son, Chuck, to bring a ladder over. While he insisted he could take care of it, she went to the store, bought the ladder and cleaned the gutters herself.
“There’s not a bashful bone in her body,” Chuck said of his mother.
She retired at age 57 after working at the Reliance Shirt Factory, Arvin Industries and Costco. After retirement, she traveled the country with her husband, Stanley Hendershot, who died in 1989. The two spent seven winters in McAllen, Texas, and worked as recreational directors in the parks department there. She then played the organ for 20 years at the Elizabethtown United Methodist Church.
Hendershot has joked with her children that maybe Heaven simply forgot about her after all these years.
She said there isn’t a big secret to living 100 years. She doesn’t smoke or drink and hasn’t throughout her lifetime. And as she puts it, she tried to stay away from the doctor as much as possible.
“The Lord has given every one of us a number,” Hendershot said. “We’ve got a time to go, and when that time comes, we’ll go, regardless of age.”
Name: Blanche Hendershot
Born: March 22, 1914
Hometown: Originally from Taylorsville, now lives in Columbus
Church: Flintwood Wesleyan Church
School: Edinburgh High School