103-year-old mother still puts family firstWritten by Julie Ryan | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Margaret Belair moved to Toledo with her family 99 years ago.
She attended Woodward Technical High School, which has since changed names and locations.
She worked for almost 50 years at the Willys-Overland Jeep Plant, which was torn down in 2006.
On April 28, Belair celebrated another milestone: turning 103.
She is still vigilant and spry, and has been residing at the Sunset House in Toledo for the past 11 years. Thoughts of her daughter, Joanne, and the love of her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren are what come easiest to mind.
“There’s nothing in my life I wouldn’t do for you,” Belair said to her daughter, Joanne Mann, 80, of Toledo.
Belair has one daughter, fourgrandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren, the majority of who still reside in Northwest Ohio.
At the age of 100, she was honored as the oldest Jeep retiree, where she had started working in 1922. Today, she is one of the oldest mothers in Toledo, where she has spent 99 years of her life and met her husband.
Belair said she met her husband when she was 16 years old. Erle Belair was the son of her hairdresser, and they met while getting her hair done on a Sunday afternoon.
“From then on he loved me and I loved him,” she said. “Not exactly love, but we liked each other, and then it turned into love and here I am.”
They lived in the Old North End and Belair continued to work at the Overland plant. He worked in the city, but Mann said with little education and no trade, her father worked various factory jobs.
Even though Belair had a long commute to work each day on foot, it was something she had to do in order to support her family.
“It seems like all these people my age and in that time had some good and some bad. You just took it and shook it up and lived it. You had to do it,” she said.
The family spent time at a cottage on Iron Lake in Michigan during the summers. Margaret Ann Meyers, Belair’s granddaughter, remembers those days fondly.
“You had me out fishing when I was 3 years old,” she said to her grandmother.
Thinking of the time she spent with “the kids” still puts a sparkle in Belair’s aged eyes.
“I loved it, any chance I got to be with them, I loved it.”
Mann said much of the time her mother spent outside of work revolved around family.
“They were big on families — they got together,” Mann said. “And I think that has something to do with our family today. We are still very family oriented — we have big get-togethers.”
Meyers said Grandma would baby-sit at the age of 75, and actively play with her kids. Almost 30 years later, Belair is mobile and in decent health — age considered. Meyers said her grandmother suffers from macular degeneration and takes medication for her heart.
For now, Belair is preparing for her 104th birthday celebration.
“I’ll take it. God’s given it to me so far and I’ll take it. He’s been good to me.”