At 100 years old, Mary Helen McFadden has quite the life to look back on.

Born on October 10, 1917 at St. Joseph Hospital Tacoma as Mary Helen Blau, her parents moved her to Eatonville at the age of 2. She attended Rainier Elementary School until the Eatonville school was completed. She was raised speaking German, and ran into teasing at school for not speaking English.

She went to Eatonville High School, where she played basketball, was involved in the May Day celebration and watched friends play baseball. She is the last living member of the Eatonville class of 1935. Her father, John Blau, was on the school board and signed her diploma.

According to McFadden, if you wanted to go somewhere in those days, you walked. So she wore holes in her shoes walking to Ohop Creek and to the lake to swim.

After high school, McFadden attended beauty school in Tacoma for two years before moving back to Eatonville to work in the town hair salon. Shortly after returning to Eatonville, the single Blau married Charles H. McFadden on May 27, 1937. She moved to “Charlie’s” farm at Rocky Ridge in Spanaway and between 1938 and 1955 raised 10 children, four girls and six boys.

The Rocky Ridge farm was a working farm with plenty of dairy cows, pigs, chickens and horses.

Even with working a farm and raising a gaggle of kids, McFadden has been a long time supporter of education. She pushed to found the Bethel School District so her kids could move on from the one-room Rocky Ridge School to a full-fledged grade school.

Mary and Charles raised money to open a new church in Spanaway. The family tried out a few churches until settling on Our Lady Queen of Heaven in 1956. They attended every Sunday.

McFadden became involved with the Pierce County Democratic Party, including becoming precinct committee chair. One voting night the lights went off thanks to a wind storm, so ballots were counted by candlelight.

She’s also been a longtime supporter of the military. In the 1960s and 70s, she was the only female contractor on Fort Lewis (now Joint Base Lewis-McChord). She was able to put her beautician skills back to work by “manicuring” the lawns and grounds of the base, leading a team of about a dozen. McFadden was working here (and getting some maintenance help on the mowers from Charles) when the family received the Western Union telegram informing them their son Martin McFadden had died of wounds suffered in Vietnam in 1969. He was deployed with the 101st Airborne Division.

As a Gold Star Mother, and with Charles partially disabled from a tractor rollover before his death in 1969, Mary took even more of the burden of raising the family on herself. Her children helped on the base, including the Fort Lewis Golf Course. Things compounded when Mary broke both her legs and then her hip.

Still, she was back up and working as soon as she was able. She took up bowling and has remained an avid walker all her life, even now at 100 1/2 years old. She’s a lifetime member of the Spanaway Eagles Lodge and the VFW Auxiliary 9079. She maintained a flower garden until last year, when the stooping down proved too difficult.

So as McFadden celebrates her 100th year on this planet, she has a full, sometimes sad, but often happy life to look back on. And with six children still living, 25 grandchildren, 44 great-grandchildren and 13 great-great-grandchildren, there are more than a few people to toast her at 100.