Friday, February 26, 2016

TOP STORY >> Woman in Cabot 100 years young

Leader staff writer

Cabot resident Opal Furr is celebrating her 25th birthday on Monday even though she’ll be turning 100 years old because she was a leap-year baby.

The extra day in February happens once every four years.

She was born on Feb. 29, 1916, in Colony, Kan. Furr is the oldest of seven children. Her dad owned a 160-acre farm that later expanded to 680 acres. They raised hogs, cattle and chickens.

After Furr graduated from high school, she said, “I wanted to work as a nurse. My dad said it was too hard. I wanted to go to beauty school and become a beautician. My dad was old-fashioned and thought I should be housewife,” Furr said.

Furr married her first husband, Clarence Donaldson, when she was 25 years old. They had a son, Ralph, who has passed away, and a set of twins, a boy, Geary and a girl, Loretta. They lived in Garnet, Kan.

Geary is a retired computer programmer, and Loretta is a retired accountant.

When the children were old enough for school, Furr went to work. She worked as a cafeteria lady at the school systems in Kansas and North Little Rock.

Her husband worked in bridge and road construction. He was then hired by Missouri Pacific Railroad as an electrician. They moved to North Little Rock in 1957 because of the railroad. They were married for 25 years until his death in 1965 from a heart attack.

“I stayed a widow for two and half years, living alone; life was a struggle. I had a dream one night that told me to put these good memories of my marriage in a book and live another life. This was something I didn’t think I could do. I never forgot those memories. Life goes on. I met another man, Robert Furr, and got married,” Furr said.

Robert was a concrete foreman who worked on many of the shopping malls in Little Rock. They were married for 18 years until his death from lung cancer.

She then moved into an apartment in Cabot to be near her daughter, Loretta, and later into Southridge Village assisted living in 2000.

Furr said her secrets to her longevity were hard work, happiness and eating the right kinds of foods.

“Hard work makes you strong. Happiness is having lots of friends and a social life,” Furr said.

“I learned to dance after my first husband died. I’d dance country western three times a week with friends,” Furr said.

She believes the exercise from dancing helped her health.

Furr said it is important to take care of your body. She said our bodies are like machinery. They can be repaired, but, when they wear out, you have to take care of them.

Furr also liked quilting. She would make the clothes while her mother worked in the garden. And Furr said she started cooking at age 12.