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Local woman marks 100th birthday

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By Elizabeth Wilson

Teddy Roosevelt was president when Ellie Ruth Porter was born on October 10, 1908. Since then, we've elected 17 more presidents and watched as one was assassinated before our eyes. The country went through two world wars and a disastrous stock market crash. We enjoyed countless technological advances like the automobile, airplane, telephone, television and computer. We marveled as America landed a man on the moon.

Yes, Ellie Ruth has experienced all these events and much more. As she celebrated her 100th birthday, though, she says her biggest joy is being surrounded by friends and family. A party in her honor on October 10 complete with best wishes, flowers, balloons and cake was held to observe the milestone. The duet Just the Two of Us presented a musical tribute offering sentimental songs from the past and led the guests in a rousing "Happy Birthday."

Family drove or flew from as far away as Idaho for the party at the Good Samaritan Retirement Home where Ellie Ruth has been a resident for eight years.

Among the guests was a daughter, Mary Shearer, who came down from Broxton, Georgia. Daughter Daisy Gleaves and her husband, Holly, drove from Wyoming. Her granddaughter, Carlotta Brenneman and two great grand daughters, Kaytlyn and Alexyn, came in from Idaho as did grandson, Holly, Jr. who flew in from Idaho just in time for the celebration.

The celebrant was born Ellie Ruth Nelson in Bagdad, Florida but the family moved to Sherman, near Lake Okeechobee where Ellie Ruth and her sister, Mary, grew up and attended high school. The sisters graduated from Florida State College for Women in Tallahassee. Ellie Ruth returned to Okeechobee to teach school. She later taught in Palm Beach County and Marion County. Her grandson, Lewis Williams, who could not make the trip from Michigan, recalls his grandmother shared her experiences living through a devastating hurricane in 1928 which led to levees being built around Lake Okeechobee.

She met Karl A. Porter, a widower, in Lake Worth and the couple was married in 1941. Along with the marriage came three stepchildren including the late Margaret Ann Williams of Williston, the late Karl A. Porter, Jr. of Georgia and Mary Shearer who, as mentioned, attended the celebration. The couple moved to Ocala in 1943 where their daughter, Daisy, was born and grew up. The couple lived in Ocala for many years but moved to New Mexico after retirement. When Karl's health began to decline, they returned to Florida and settled in Williston in 1978. Karl passed away in 1985.

Ellie Ruth has lived at Good Samaritan Retirement Home on First Avenue for the past eight years. Daughter Daisy describes the care her mother receives at the assisted living facility as "fantastic."