105 year old Del City Woman's Life of Art and Adventure
Lois Wooten was born on May 5, 1914 and just celebrated her 105th birthday, but you would never guess it by chatting with her. Her lively spirit and animated laugh both teem with a youthful vitality, not to mention the twinkle she has in her eyes when she talks about the lengthy journey and adventures she has had in her lifetime.
“You try to open an account with that birth year, the computer wouldn't even accept it,” Wooten said with a laugh. “They finally got it through, but I haven't tried to get one anywhere else after that.”
Wooten was born in Floyd, Texas where she lived with her mother and father, Glen and Nora Nolen, and her younger sister Louise. She has fond memories of riding in a horse drawn buggy as a young child, and even learned to drive at the age of 12 in a Model T Ford. As a young adult Wooten went to work at the Haggar Pants Factory in Greenville, Texas where she met the love of her life, Ernest Wooten.
“I worked the button hole machine. He pressed the top of the pants. He was always looking around and smiling at me all the time. He told me this later, he said that he told himself that if he was going to get married that it was going to be to me. I said well had I known that I wouldn't have worked so hard to get him,” said Wooten with a chuckle.
They were married in 1939, and had a daughter named Linda after losing a set of twin boys who were stillborn. In 1947 the family moved to Oklahoma when Ernest got a job as a firefighter at Tinker Air Force Base. Her younger sister Louise even married her husband's younger brother, who served in the Vietnam war and then moved here too to became a firefighter at Tinker. Wooten purchased a home in Del City in 1950, and shortly thereafter Lois started working in the Del City School system.
“They had just opened Del City High and I had a friend that got the job as the cafeteria manager and she asked if I wanted to work there, so I did. I stayed there until they built Kerr Junior High. Mr. Emerson was the principal and he treated me like I was a teacher, he really respected me. So I followed him on over to Kerr and I worked there for 25 years. I was 63 when I retired,” Said Wooten.
After both Wooten and her husband both retired, they spent some time traveling with a group of friends. They traveled to almost every state from one end to the other, including Hawaii. That's also when she started taking art, which had been an interest for her for years.
“I took art classes for about 6 years from a lady in Midwest city that was really good at oil paintings. Then I got started drawing and making greeting cards. I'm still doing that, doing it about 25 years now,” said Wooten “People tell me they keep them and display them, so it makes me feel like I'm doing a little something.”
In addition to her hand painted cards, Wooten designed a mural for the fence in her backyard. While painting the large mural was too much for her at this age, she did hand draw and design it, and hired an artist to replicate it on the fence.
She also had her storm shelter decorated with a Wizard of Oz theme. She surrounds herself with whimsical art, which goes to show her artistic and creative nature.
When making her cards, Wooten draws the pictures and then paints them, before using a copy machine to make prints directly onto the cardstock. She then puts a sticker on the back saying it was made especially for the recipient by her along with her age and birth date.
“She's definitely high tech. She got her first computer when she was 91, she hadn't done anything on a computer until then. Mostly she taught herself,” said her daughter Linda Forrester. “She got her first cell phone when my dad got sick, a flip phone back in the day. Then IPhones and smartphones came out, so she got her one of those. She's always making the comment that she can't believe how much fits into this tiny phone, it just holds so much. She told me once that there was so much in it, that the phone was getting heavier,” said Forrester in laughter.
Wooten lost her husband to a heart condition in 1997, and has lived independently since then. But she definitely keeps up with the times, and keeps herself busy. Wooten also has an Ipad and plays games on that and her Iphone all the time. She also enjoy her 2 granddaughters Jennifer and Shelley, and her 2 great grandsons Josh and Calvin.
“I text all the time. I love texting. I did say that I'm going to have to get some stuff off of my phone because I can hardly lift it there's so much stuff in it. Of course I knew better than that, but it's fun,” she said with a twinkle in her eye.
Back in 2014 at her 100th birthday, Del City Mayor Brian Linley held a special presentation where he proclaimed May 5 as Lois Wooten Day in Del City.
“I have to say something about the way my mother and my father raised me, they raised me to be a good christian, and I think that's the reason she is still around. Thank the Lord that he has. She always looks outside of herself, she may not be able to do much any more, but she is always trying to find ways to do something for someone else,” said Forrester. “She drove up until she was 98. delivering food and visiting friends volunteering her time and helping out. Now she brightens people's days with handmade cards that she mails to them. This woman has never been bored, she never complains. She finds things to do and she keeps herself busy.”
When asked what the secret is to a long life, Wooten laughs that she likes to say that it's thanks to all the Kentucky Fried Chicken and Twinkies she has eaten over the years. In fact she gave that answer to KOCO Channel 5 anchor Evan Onstott last month when he interviewed her about her birthday, and KFC then sent her gift certificates for free meals.
“Really the secret to my long life is that it's just the Lord blessing me,” said Wooten.
Wooten was celebrated in the Oklahoma House of Representatives the week of her birthday, and was presented with a citation from the state of Oklahoma and Del City honoring her. The entire house sang happy birthday and gave her a standing ovation.
Wooten was also tickled when she went to Cheddar's in Midwest City with her family on her birthday to celebrate, that they brought her an entire sheet cake and 2 bouquets of flowers. When the restaurant learned that it was her 105th birthday and she was celebrating it there, they sent someone out immediately to get cake and flowers. They also sent her a letter in the mail thanking her for choosing Cheddar's to celebrate her birthday.
After 105 years, Wooten has seen so many different events and progress. When asked what was the most amazing thing that she's witnessed in her lifetime, she said it's probably the fact that we put a man on the moon.
“There's been so much, it's almost like magic. We went to the weather school in Norman once and they showed us all the ways they can tell the weather and I told them now I know it's magic.,” said Wooten.
Her daughter also says that Wooten is always talking about how amazing the smartphones are, and that we can talk to someone in another country and even send pictures.
“And then they just get it that quick, explain that to me. It's amazing, it really is,” said Wooten with a shake of her head.
Wooten also said one of the greatest memories she has was reciting a poem her mother taught to her, to an Uncle who was just getting back from the war.
“WWI was over when I was about 4 years old, and my mother taught me this poem to recite to my uncle that was coming home from the war. She set me up on a chair and I said the poem to him, and he just cried,” recalls Wooten fondly, as if it were only yesterday. “That poem, I don't ever remember it being written down and I remember it all these years, 100 years, someone explain that to me.”
The poem was called When Grandma Cleans the Attic Room, and she kindly recited it again right then and there:
About the first of spring, she opens up every box and shakes out everything
She sweeps the rafters and the floor and makes the windows shine
and grandma says I helped because I hold the dustpan fine
and when the quilts and bedspreads are flopping in the sun
everything is spanking neat and we're almost done
she sits in that old shakey chair, the one she likes the best
because it's the one she rocked all her babies in to rest
and then she opens up her keepsake box so I can peep inside
inside is the bonnet that she wore when she was to be a bride,
grandpa's vest and fans and things,
letters tied with blue ribbon, just everything
and then there's this little pair of red top boots, not scarcely worn at all,
just scuffed a little around the toes, awfully cute and small
and when she holds them to her cheek and kisses them, then I know
they're the little boy's that died almost 40 years ago
all of her babies are all grown up and caused her no regret,
but oh that little boy that died, he's her baby yet.
She's recited that poem at country clubs ladies groups, and retirement homes, to everyone’s delight and amazement.
One thing is for sure, Wooten has lived a long and adventurous life and is looking forward to more years to come.