104 years young!

Published 11:26 am Thursday, March 2, 2023

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One Jessamine County resident has packed learning, writing and swimming into well over a century of life.

Gladys Williamson, who resides at the Bridgepoint at Ashgrove Woods, an assisted living facility in Nicholasville, celebrated her 1o4th birthday last Tuesday.

She was born in 1919 in Hoopeston, Illinois. Her parents, Agnes and Bill, were farmers. She was a middle child and had two sisters: Martha and Eva. With four children: Martha, Ed, Wally and Marilyn, Williamson is a grandmother of 8 and a great-grandmother of 12 children.

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Williamson has had quite an eventful life with many passions, including her participation in the Protestant religion- when speaking with her. She will often say that God has given her a wonderful life – all while donning a cheerful smile.

Her mother highly valued life-long learning and ensured all three daughters went to college. In the 1940s, this was quite unusual. Many women weren’t able to graduate high school. But, because of her mother, Williamson graduated from Illinois State University, earning her bachelor’s degree in business.

Williamson put her degree to use and, according to her daughter Martha, was why her first husband, Bob Morse, had a successful engineering firm. While raising four children, Williamson worked as the office manager for Morse’s engineering firm.

She is a woman with many skills and hobbies. When Williamson was young, her mother bought a piano, and she and her two sisters learned to play. She plays the piano to this day at Bridgepointe and later learned to play the organ.

Writing was Williamson’s favorite hobby. She wrote two books throughout her life. One about her life, recounting stories from diaries she filled up throughout her years, and another about the life of her first-born daughter, Martha.

Reading was another hobby of Williamson’s. Because she has low vision, she can’t read anymore, but she has read the Bible in its entirety twice.

Canoeing and traveling became some of Williamson’s favorite hobbies as life went on.

Her daughter, Martha, said that Williamson took family trips with her first husband, Morse, and their children throughout North America- driving to Alaska and Central and South America. She continued traveling with her second husband, Gary Williamson. Her love for travel ultimately led Williamson to return to school to earn her master’s degree in geography after her children moved away from home.

Williamson never stopped learning in her later years. She deeply loved swimming and even participated in competitions. Her favorite events were the backstroke and the freestyle. She’s held six national swimming records in the Senior Olympic games. She still holds four of those national titles. She’s placed in the top ten rankings 21 times and has many medals and trophies.

Robin Dawson, Bridgepointe’s Social Services/Memory Care Director, said that Williamson has made her cry multiple times while under her care. Even though health issues and pain, her faith stays strong.