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Retired teacher scores 100 in the test of life
By ROBERT L. ROMAKER
NEWS STAFF REPORTER
YPSILANTI - Ellen Gould turns 100 today, and says no matter how long she lives, “I won’t change anything I’m doing.”
“I think I’m quite well and I enjoy life,” says the retired teacher who now lives at Gilbert House, a home for senior citizens.
Last week, Gould went to Briarwood to purchase a wedding present. She bought a vase. “I always buy vases for wedding presents,” she says. “It’s something couples can always use, and vases never wear out.”
Earlier, Gould visited friends in Grand Ledge and planned to take a ride on a paddleboat, but rain canceled the excursion. She's the resident flower gardener at Gilbert House. “I don’t bend down too well anymore; I have to hang onto my walker, but I manage,” she says with a smile. She also writes poetry and, until recently, painted with oils.
Gould smiles frequently and laughs gently with a relaxed face free of stress lines. She likes to walk around Gilbert House to talk with other residents because, “ I don’t want to miss anything.” She also enjoys sing-alongs, although she describes her voice as “pretty husky nowadays.”
Her voice got a lot of action this past weekend as she renewed acquaintances with hundreds of friend during a series of 100th birthday celebrations.
Evangelical Friends Church, where Gould still worships, had a birthday celebration for her on Saturday. Over the years, she served the church as youth Sunday school teacher, elder and presiding clerk.
Another birthday party, featuring an open house and short program, was scheduled for today at Gilbert House.
On July 8, she will be honored at the September Days Senior Center in Belleville. Gould spent 34 of her 44 years as a teacher and principal in the Belleville system.
During her early teaching years, starting in 1914, Gould drove or rode in a horse-driven buggy to Island School and Childs School in the Lincoln school district. In 1922, she recalls paying $625 for her first car, a Model-T Ford. "It broke my heart because rain splattered the beauty of my new car when I was driving it home," Gould says.
She says she developed a love for schools and kids during her career, but did not set out to become a teacher. “I wanted to be a nurse, like my mother,” she says. “But in those days contagious diseases were common and a threat to the life of a nurse. My mother decided that I would become a teacher.”
When she moved to Gilbert House in 1958, Gould donated approximately 150 valentines to the Ypsilanti Historical Museum. They represented affectionate greetings from the students she taught. The valentines are on special exhibit annually during the week of Feb. 14.
Cathy Sims, a secretary at Gilbert House, says there’s still a little bit of the principal in Gould. “She refers to us as ‘her girls,’” Sims says. “I’m not surprised at how well she’s doing because she keeps busy and is a fun person; she has a real joy for life.”
Adds Linda Lawther, office manager, “Ellen has an immortal attitude; God wouldn’t dare take her.”
Ellen Gould talks with Pastor Doug Burch and holds his 4-month-old daughter, Kaitlin, during a party for Gould at the Evangelical Friends Church, Ypsilanti, to celebrate her 100th birthday. Gould was born on July 1,1891, when Benjamin Harrison was president of the United States. Hundreds of Gould's friends and relatives came from all over the country for her party.