Opal was born in 1916, the oldest of six children. She grew up on the family’s 120-acre farm east of Goshen, where they grew corn, milked dairy cows, and raised chickens for their eggs. In 1934, she graduated from Millersburg High School. After graduation, Opal helped take care of newborns while the mother recovered. She was proud that she gave several area babies their first baths.
Opal married her first husband, Charles, in 1939 and was widowed five months later, when he died in an at-home accident. Pregnant at the time of husband’s death, Opal gave birth to a son six months later. She named him Stanley, which was her husband’s middle name.
When she married her second husband, J. W., in 1944, they moved to Bremen. At first, they lived in town, and then later they moved to a small farm out in the country. Together, J.W. and Opal had two children.
To earn extra money for her family, Opal began sewing and doing alterations. She worked for several Goshen area stores making alterations, and she altered all the uniforms for the Goshen Police Department. She’s also made many wedding dresses and knit many afghans.
When J.W retired from teaching, they moved to Lakeland, Florida. It was a joy of Opal’s purchasing annual tickets to Disney World so when family members visited, they could go to Disney together. Opal and J.W. enjoyed traveling together and camping They frequently camped at state parks, where they even worked for a time as camp inspectors. Opal and J.W. were married for forty years before his passing in 1984.
In 1987, Opal married her third husband, Melvin, a distant relative of her second husband. They lived in Sugar Grove, Illinois, and they also enjoyed traveling to different states. Opal has been to all 50 states, including both Alaska and Hawaii a couple of times each and even traveled to Europe. Melvin and Opal enjoyed 13 years of marriage before he passed away in 2000.
After Melvin passed away, Opal wanted to move back to the Goshen area be close to her son and siblings. When Stanley suggested she move into his house, she quickly packed up her belongings and moved back to Goshen, where she has lived for the past 19 years.
For Opal’s 100th birthday, all of her family along with many friends joined her at Sugar Grove Church for a celebration. According to her son Stanley, the basement of the church was filled with people and Opal had a wonderful time.
At 101, Stanley found that he needed some help caring for his mom. “A friend of ours from church recommended Firefly, and we called them. Someone came out to the house to get us set up, and we’ve had help from them for the past two years. Linda has been my mom’s caregiver, and Cindy has been her nurse.”
Opal has taken part in two services offered by Firefly, nursing and caregiving. Cindy, Opal’s nurse said, “Opal greets me as if I were a long-lost friend. Almost every day I saw her, I could find her in her bedroom working, folding clothes, or organizing. And, when I used my laptop, she was fascinated by seeing her name on my screen, and watching as I typed notes about our visit.”
Linda has been Opal’s Firefly caregiver for over a year. She helps Opal bathe, dress, and cleans the house. “Opal has a great sense of humor. When I’m helping her get cleaned up and dressed for the day, she’ll pat me on my head and tell me I’m doing a good job. Other times, she goes full speed ahead with her walker and if I’m in her way, she’ll laugh and tell me to get out of her way or move over, she’s coming.”
Linda and Opal have developed a great relationship this past year, “When I leave on Friday, she always tells me to have a great weekend, and that she’ll see me on Monday. I look forward to seeing her the next week.”