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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Mae Knapp has the story of a lifetime

  • Mae Knapp, a resident at Guest Home Estates, doesn’t have any special ties to Ireland, but can still claim St. Patrick’s Day as her birthday.

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  • Mae Knapp, a resident at Guest Home Estates, doesn’t have any special ties to Ireland, but can still claim St. Patrick’s Day as her birthday.
    Her family, including a host of loving nieces and nephews, are planning a nice reception from 2 to 4 p.m. March 17 at Guest Home Estates, and expect relatives from half a dozen or so states to come in.
    “Aunt Mae can’t understand why we’re making all this fuss,” said niece Clara Faye Jackson. “But we haven’t had anybody be 100 before.”
    Knapp was born March 17, 1912, in Ravenden, Ark.
    “That’s as good a place to be born as any, but we didn’t stay there very long,” Knapp said.
    She was the oldest of four children. Sister Anna and brother Earl are now deceased, but the baby of the family, brother Arthur Force, Lamar, Mo., is 91 and thriving.
    “He still plays the violin,” said niece Carolyn Depue.
    Knapp said that she gave Force her car when she moved to Guest Home Estates.
    “Now every Sunday, if the weather is good, he drives over to see me,” she said. “It’s good he’s still alive, because he was a soldier in World War II.”
    Knapp herself had a close call at the age of 16, when she was badly burned by a lamp.
    “For a while they didn’t think she was going to make it,” Jackson said.
    She and her siblings grew up in southwest Missouri, and she attended high school in Jasper, Mo.
    “She and our mother used to walk to school, and our grandfather always noticed that our mother’s shoes were worn out, but Aunt Mae’s shoes weren’t,” Depue said. “The reason was that our mother used to dance the Charleston all the way to school, and Aunt Mae didn’t.”
    The two Force sisters both became teachers for a time, receiving their teacher training in high school.
    “I ended up in first grade, but at my first school, I had any grade that was there,” Knapp said. “Back then, if they didn’t behave, you could use a switch. My father cut switches for me, but I didn’t have to use them.”
    Eventually, rules were changed and teachers were required to have college training. Knapp attended nigh school and summer school while teaching and earned a teaching degree from Pittsburg State University.
    On April 24, 1936, she married Joseph Albert “Bert” Knapp, a farmer. The couple never had children of their own, but were favorites of the nieces and nephews.
    “Uncle Bert said he could eat two pieces of pumpkin pie because it didn’t have as many calories as apple pie,” Depue said. “At least, that’s what he told us.”
    Page 2 of 2 - “We had an enjoyable life,” Knapp said. “He treated me like a queen.”
    Bert Knapp died on Dec. 27, 1997, two days before his 88th birthday. They were married 61 1/2 years.
    She retired from teaching in 1972 at Carl Junction, Mo. She lived on her own in Mindenmines, Mo., until the age of 95, when she came to Guest Home Estates.
    Knapp remains alert and active, and enjoys visits and excursions with family members. Nephew Lloyd Southern takes care of her finances and legal matters. Another nephew, Robert Southern, lives in the Kansas City area.
    Knapp has made one concession to time, and now uses a walker.
    “I’d rather walk without it, but I’m grateful I can still walk and not be carried,” she said.
    “The Lord has carried you,” Jackson said.
    Knapp and her husband were devoted Seventh Day Adventists and helped start the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Lamar. The church celebrates the Sabbath on Saturday instead of Sunday, and also stresses healthy living habits, with no smoking or alcohol use.
    This might be a factor in Knapp’s long life and continued good health. Maybe the chocolate helps, too.
    “Whenever we have a family dinner, we get her a plate with a sample of every dessert and she especially enjoys chocolate,” Jackson said. “That’s what everybody gets her for Christmas, boxes of chocolates.”
    Knapp has a very simple and basic explanation for her long life.
    “The Good Lord still has a purpose for me to still be living or I wouldn’t still be living,” she said.
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