The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Dallas Smith

Advice from 100 year-old, "get an education"


Dallas Smith

Centenarian: 100-year old Margie Hammargren will celebrate her 101st birthday Sunday, Sept. 1.

Margie Hammargren is an extraordinary woman, her adventures range from sailing on oil rigs with her Papa to being in the CIA. Hammargren is now 100 years old and is preparing to celebrate her 101st birthday on Sept. 1, 2013. And though Hammargren has lost her husband and has a century under her belt she is an inspiration to those around her; she still has her brain, her spunk, and a great sense of humor.

Hammargren was born in Tracyton, Wash., near Bremerton on Puget Sound but later moved to New Orleans, La., with her Papa. Hammargren lived with her Papa in New Orleans while her brother and mother lived together elsewhere. Her Papa worked on oil rigs and she would sail on them with him on the Gulf of Mexico. “I never did get sea sick. There were a lot of people who did, but I never did,” Hammargren says. When asked about her father, Hammargren answered simply, “He was a Papa.” He loved her, took care of her, gave her what she needed, and made sure she ate what she needed to.

Also, during World War I, Hammargren was six when she would help make clothing for the soldiers. She and her grandmother used khaki colored wool to make socks. Hammargren didn’t know how to make the heels and toes, so when she would get to those points her grandmother would make the heels and toes for her. Others who were helping them make clothing made scarves, and mittens as well. “In 1918, the boys were coming home, some were crippled, but that’s just what they were. They were boys, not men,” Hammargren explained.

Back in Washington at the age of 16, Margie met and married Milton Hammargren, before either of them had finished high school. Milton and Margie became a family when they had their daughter, Ione, who Hammargren’s grandmother looked after while they worked. Milton got a good job at the shipyard in Bremerton building war ships, while Margie started working for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). She worked with two men and one other woman, but whenever Hammargren mentioned working for the CIA she said, “Very secret, I can’t talk about it.”

In the 1930s they built a sailboat and sailed around Puget Sound and they also had an airplane that Milton flew. Margie and Milton flew around the country, but Margie did not like to fly. What she did like to do was ski across the water in the plane on the Great Lakes. Then later, when World War II occurred, Margie joined the Red Cross to help with the war effort; she helped make bandages for the wounded. Like many citizens of the United States, she and Milton made sacrifices during the war.

When World War II ended, life returned to normal for the Hammargrens. She joined the Eastern Star and even became a Grand Officer. As a Grand Officer, Hammargren traveled all around the state to visit all of the lodges in Washington. At the meetings they would dress in beautiful gowns and her favorite was one that an artist made for her. The gown was a dark color with an orchid painted on it by the artist; the dark color made the orchid really stand out. Hammargren received many compliments on that dress. No doubt she must have been striking with her auburn-red hair and beautiful orchid dress.

Dogs have always been in Hammargren’s life and they offer her companionship and comfort. She used to have a beagle named Benny and a small poodle named Fifi. Fifi had a habit of sitting in Hammargren’s lap and would lay her head on Hammargren’s shoulder. Then after a while Fifi would fall asleep. “I remember that she snored,” Hammargren said with a laugh. Even now animals are a part of Margie Hammargren’s life; Ella and Liza are two full-sized poodles that spend time with Hammargren. They come in to help put her to bed and lay on the bed until Georgia Unger tells them that’s enough for the night. “The dogs and Georgia [Unger] make me happy,” Hammargren confided.

Hammargren lost her eyesight in the 90s, but before then she loved reading books. She also loved listening to recorded books before it became difficult for her to hear. Now, she lives at Georgia’s Adult Care Home where she has friends and has fun having Polka Parties on Saturday nights (The Polka is Hammargren’s favorite dance), listening to singers on Wednesdays where her favorite song is, In The Garden. Every other Sunday Greg and Connie Roghett bring their keyboard and Hammargren dances with her wheelchair. She watches Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune in the evenings, and is visited by her five generations of children and grandchildren. Her daughter Ione and her son-in-law David Bohl visit her twice a week religiously. They are both in their early 80s and have been married 65 years.

When asked what advice she would have for young people Hammargren said, “Get a great education, that is something that no one can take away from you.” Although Hammargren didn’t get as much of an education as she wanted, her century of life has been a very exciting, incredible journey.

Hammargren will be celebrating her birthday on Sept. 1 at 2 p.m. at 1366 S. Columbus Ave, Goldendale, 98620 and everybody who wants to wish her a happy birthday is welcome. There will be entertainment, food, and best of all, cupcakes. Margie Hammargren is a truly inspirational and fantastic woman.


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