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Chillicothe News - Chillicothe, MO
  • Celebrating a century of life

  • The average lifespan of a human being is said to be roughly 67 years. Ethel Elizabeth Brandt Flair Lyzen and George K. Meinershagen, however, have far exceeded that benchmark — they are the only two centenarians currently residing at Indian Hills Retirement Village in Chillicothe, and they live across the hall from one ...
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  • The average lifespan of a human being is said to be roughly 67 years. Ethel Elizabeth Brandt Flair Lyzen and George K. Meinershagen, however, have far exceeded that benchmark — they are the only two centenarians currently residing at Indian Hills Retirement Village in Chillicothe, and they live across the hall from one another. This is not the first time Ethel and George have been introduced. The two attended eighth grade together in Higginsville, Mo.
    Ethel said the two weren't really friends at that time, but she remembers that they went to school together. Ethel also said they only finished one grade together — she moved away from Higginsville after completing eighth grade.
    Ethel and George visit with each other from time to time, reminiscing on their memories of Higginsville and their life afterwards.
    Ethel celebrated her 100th birthday in June of this year. She was born in Knobnoster, Mo., in 1913, and was one of eight children. Two of her siblings are still living, one being 103 years old. After attending eighth grade in Higginsville, Ethel worked at the International Shoe Factory in Higginsville for about nine years. She married her first husband, John Flair, in 1936, and they had two daughters. The couple purchased a farm in Hale in 1950. Flair passed away in 1977 due to a heart attack. Ethel remarried in 1985 when she and Daniel (Andrew) Lyzen were married. The couple remained at the farm in Hale until May 2011, when Daniel was 101 and Ethel was 98. Daniel moved in with his daughter in Nebraska and Ethel lived with her daughter, Johnna Townsend, of Chillicothe, so they could each receive the care they needed.
    Of life on the farm, Ethel said she spent a lot of time gardening, canning food for winter and working on the farm, and that there was always plenty of work that needed to be done. On her farm, Ethel said they grew several things including oats, wheat and corn.
    "You depended on it to live, even through the winter," Ethel said. "It meant something to have a garden. You always canned. We didn't have the privilege of freezing at that time. People don't know what work was unless they lived 100 years ago. Right now they've got it easy, you can buy it in a can or something like that. You had to look out for winter at that time or you might not have anything to eat."
    Ethel also worked at the Boss Glove Factory in Chillicothe for about 24 years. Comparing life in the city to life out in the country, she said she preferred living in the country the best.
    "(It was) freedom," Ethel said. "You could go wherever you wanted to go, go down to the woods and climb a tree if you wanted to."
    Ethel has resided at Indian Hills since May of this year. She broke several ribs, and after being hospitalized for a couple of days, moved to the retirement home to receive physical therapy and to regain strength.
    Page 2 of 2 - George turned 100 in January of this year. He was born in Higginsville in 1913. After graduating from Higginsville High School in 1931, he attended Central Methodist College in Fayette, Mo., for one year, where he met his future wife Dorothy Brown. George then went to Kansas City Western Dental School (now University of Missouri Kansas City Dental School) and graduated with a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1936. He said that this is one of the moments of his life that he is most proud of.
    "One of my favorite things that happened was that I got out of dental school in 1936, which I consider to be an accomplishment," George said.
    After receiving his degree, George married Dorothy in 1936 and moved to St. Joseph, Mo., where he practiced dentistry for four years. In 1940, George and his wife moved to Chillicothe, where he opened his own practice and has been a resident ever since. He has two sons, Jim and Charles, and two granddaughters.
    George practiced dentistry for 62 years, retiring in 1997 at the age of 85. During his life, he served with the 91st division in the Dental Corps Hospital in Oxford, England, during World War II. He also spent quite a bit of time traveling — he has been to all 50 states in the United States, and has visited many countries including China, Japan, Taiwan, Norway, Russia, Germany, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Spain, England, France and Israel.
    George said he has seen various parts of the world.
    "(I've seen) quite a bit of it," George said. "Not all of it ... (I enjoyed) seeing how people lived."
    In addition to his travels, George was also an active member of the Vern R. Glick Post #25 American Legion, American Red Cross, Elks Lodge, Kiwanis Club, Shriners, Free Masons, American Dental Association and the Chillicothe R-2 School Board.
    Though many people would consider turning 100 to be a large life milestone, to Ethel it is just another event to add to her story.
    "I don't think much about it," Ethel laughed. "It just happened."
    Ethel said that reflecting back on her life, she knows the true meaning of work.
    "I've worked all my life," Ethel said. "I ain't ever had it easy. I think it's easier right now than it ever was. I never did expect anybody to take care of me. You have to look after yourself."
    George said he believes he has lived a long and healthy life.
    "I'm just here," George said. "I'm not bragging about the fact that I have made it to 100, I just did. I didn't do anything special, just living one day at a time."
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