HANCOCK – Ask anyone at PortagePointe
about Mary Altman, and smiles are all you’ll see. The 105-year-old resident of PortagePointe has that affect on people.
“Everyone loves her,” said Julie Beck, the social worker who works with all of the elders at PortagePointe. “She’s an amazing woman, the kind of person you could spend a week listening to and it wouldn’t be close to enough time.”
On Sunday, March 11, the PortagePointe community celebrated Altman’s 105th birthday with an afternoon celebration that included members from the Lake Linden American Legion Post 90, Major General Todd Stewart and Altman’s family.
“It was just marvelous,” said Altman. “There were so many people, so much stuff going on.”
Flash bulbs were going off, community leader Dennis Korby gave a touching speech and Altman got to see old friends and meet new ones, such as a three-year-old Lake Linden pre-school student that gave her flowers.
“She was so precious,” Altman said. “I was floored by all of it.”
Altman grew up in Gregoryville, which was a French suburb of Lake Linden. She didn’t learn English until the fifth grade when she began attending school in Lake Linden. She graduated from the high school in 1927.
“I was there when they first opened that school,” she said.
After high school she attended Hurley Hospital School of Nursing
in Flint. The school still sends her birthday gifts, including a personal care gift basket this year.
She worked in Flint before joining the army as a 1st lieutenant during World War II. She also had four brothers serve in the army, two were injured during World War II, the other two served near the end of World War I.
Altman has traveled to all 48 states in the mainland, and has always enjoyed learning new things.
“I’m full of questions,” she said. “I’m always asking them and have been since I was born.”
She said she used to badger her mother with questions, but now the curious lady directs questions to her caretakers and friends at PortagePointe.
She said the key to her long life is a positive attitude.
“Think positive, forget the negatives,” she said. “There’s always obstacles, but things will be better. If there’s something you want to do, go for it, try your best and never give up.”