On Saturday, Sept. 8, numerous former and current Grove residents honored centenarian Geraldine Matthews with a birthday party.
Geraldine, who was an eye witnesses to many of the historical events surrounding the community, celebrates her 100th birthday on Tuesday, Sept. 11.
“Geraldine is extremely alert and mobile, even at 100 years old,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker.
Baker was on hand to hand deliver a Cherokee Nation blanket to Geraldine.
“She’s an exceptionally charming young lady,” Baker said.
Geraldine is a Cherokee role model who spent a lifetime in service to others, he said.
“I never thought I would live this long,” Matthews said. “It’s the Lord that has allowed me to live this long.”
At last week's Grove City Council meeting, council members set aside Tuesday, Sept. 11 as Geraldine Ford Matthews Day.
“She is one of only an estimated 72,000 centenarians across the country,” said Mayor Ed Trumbull on her distinguished honor.
Geraldine, who is one-quarter Cherokee and a member of the Cherokee Nation, said she attributes her longevity to the Lord and “eating anything I want to.”
She is often asked about what advice she would give to young families.
“Be sure you and your spouse know the Lord and you really love each other,” Matthews said.
Her advice on raising children is similar.
“Be sure and teach them the right things to do and to live for the Lord," she said.
Geraldine had one son, the late Terry Wise. She also has a granddaughter, Heather Caselman and two great-grandsons.
Born just across the state line in Maysville, Arkansas to Gilly and Laura Ford, Geraldine was one of seven children.
The family moved to Grove in 1929 and homesteaded the land where the now Grove Regional Airport is located
Geraldine still proud that her dad, Gilly, received local recognition as being the first farmer in the Grove area to have a non-stationary hay baler.
Her personal faith in Christ has been and continues to be the cornerstone of Geraldine’s long life.
“I read my Bible every day,” she said.
Her family helped establish the Assembly of God Church that formerly set on Broadway Street.
Geraldine attended Grove schools but left early and received her diploma through a correspondence program.
“I walked to school every day and my older sister rode a horse,” Matthews said.
Grand River Dam Authority’s construction of Grand Lake was the defining moment in Grove’s history, she said.
Today, she doesn’t even recognize the once sleepy fishing village.
“I have never seen so many drivers,” Matthews said.
One of those drivers on the road is Geraldine herself.
“I still drive,” Matthews said.
An extremely limited routine - to the beauty shop, post office and to medical appointments – but Geraldine still gets around. Her friends pick her up and drive her to the Hickory Grove area for church every Sunday.
Geraldine had a front row seat to one of the community’s biggest accomplishments – the day Grove General Hospital opened its doors.
Working as a nurse’s aide for the hospital, Geraldine attended Northeast Oklahoma A & M College and graduated as an LPN. She passed her State Boards in 1966.
Not one to shy away from politics, Geraldine said although she is a registered Democrat, she voted for Donald Trump in the last general election.
“He has put a lot of people to work,” Matthews said.
In her retirement years, Geraldine has volunteered at the Christian Mission Thrift Store, the Christian Medical Clinic at the First Baptist Church, and is a former Commander of the D.A.V. Auxiliary.