The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Big Chuck

September 23, 2013

Swapping stories with a sweet centenarian


“It wasn’t around yet back then,” she said with a slight giggle.

Marge Mathews is 105 years old next week.

I asked her about her association with St. Mary’s Church. “I have been a member all my life,” she told me. “I was baptized there in 1908. I married my husband, Thomas Mathews, in the old St. Mary’s on Feb. 22, 1930. We went on our honeymoon to Brooklyn.”

“Brooklyn,” I said. “Gee that doesn’t sound very romantic.”

The little bespectacled lady leaned over her apple pie and winked at me. “We thought it was plenty romantic,” she laughed.

Tom Mathews was a longtime newspaper man at what was then the Oneonta Daily Star, working the linotype and rising to shop foreman. Marge spent decades making dresses at the Fairfield Manufacturing Company on Dietz Street.

I spoke with Carol Ann Bagnardi, who is related to Marge by marriage. She told me Marge has no relatives left in the Oneonta area but has a large family in Albany. “The weddings up there are epic. A very big family for sure.”

Carol is a constant, friendly and reliable companion to Marge and she does it willingly. “I love this lady. She is the wisest, nicest most undemanding woman I have ever met. She is such a joy to be around. Even when the littlest relatives come around, they gravitate to Marge to listen to her stories. She is just so special. And resilient. She doesn’t have a regular doctor, lives alone in her home, and I have to argue with her to get her to take an aspirin,” she said with a smile.

Is Marge the oldest resident of Otsego County? Probably. Is she the oldest member of the St. Mary’s parish? Almost certainly.

Marge’s faith, rooted in her earliest days at Oneonta’s hallowed Catholic Church, maintains her as she takes each day at a time. “I am ready,” she told me. “I am not afraid. When my Lord calls me home, I am ready to go.”

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