Springville’s Newest Centenarian

Longtime Springville resident Marion L. Ahles celebrated her 100th birthday on September 13, 2016. Although it is becoming more common to live longer, Marion will reach this noteworthy event while still living an active lifestyle. Just six short months ago, Marion traveled with her daughter Donna to South Africa for her granddaughter’s wedding celebration where she toured Krueger National Park photographing wildlife in the bush visited Cape Town and the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, toured the Voortrekker Monument and the World Heritage Site of Maropeng: Cradle of Humankind. Shortly thereafter in late August, she took advantage of offers to ride horseback, ride a four wheeler, and tour East Otto on a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Born in New England, Marion moved to the Springville area at an early age. She grew up on a farm in the town of New Ashford on what is now Henrietta Road, where she attended a one room school for students in grades one through eight. At her high school, the Springville Griffith Institute (SGI), she played violin in the orchestra and graduated in 1933. She is an actual survivor of the comedic metaphor of “walking uphill to school both ways,” as she had to climb in and out of Zoar Valley on even the snowiest of days.

While a student at SGI, the head of the Village water department asked Art teacher, Mr. Snyder, the art which of his students would be capable of designing a new system of water delivery for the rapidly expanding community. Marion was recommended. She created the design, and drew up blueprints which
were used for the project. Several years ago David Sullivan from the Village Water Department shared that they occasionally still come across some of the wooden duct work which was part of her project.

Her family did not have indoor plumbing, therefore they utilized an outhouse and enjoyed baths in the kitchen once per week, with water drawn from a single hand pump. Marion witnessed the evolution from horse and buggy to automobiles, the installation of electricity in her home; which allowed for one light in each room, and of course the telephone, with up to eight families sharing one party line, each answering their calls based on the number of rings assigned to each person.

Marion originally met her future husband, John Ahles, in grade school, and they began dating after high school. The Ahles were married in Springville on July 4, 1940. Marion shared that John was always happy that “the whole country celebrated their anniversary with fireworks.” Marion and John had two children, Donna (Schweikert) and David, nine grandchildren, and fifteen great grand-children with one on the way. John passed in 2003 after 63 years of marriage.

During World War II, Marion worked as a machinist making special order parts for military aircraft. She laid the brickwork and electrical wiring for the home she and her husband, John, built in Springville. Marion was a beautician with her own business and later was well known for her talent in the furniture re-upholstery business, which she ran for many

She and John helped create and manage the Springville Rifle and Pistol Club. Marion was one of the highest scoring shooters in competitions.  For several years she held the title of Champion Lady Pistol
Shooter of Western New York. Marion was an active member of her local Home Bureau, a musician in her church choir and cared for several elderly family members in her home until they passed.

Marion is always ready to learn new talents and is an avid reader of new technology.  She uses the Internet and loves to travel. Her present hobbies include knitting, caring for her rose garden, beading, photography, watching wildlife in her back yard and caring for her family of Madagascar Hissing
Cockroaches. She currently is an International Art Instructor teaching oil painting in Ashford, NY.

One of Marion’s favorite activities is camping, she has enjoyed almost every State Park in New York State. In 2011, at age 95, she took a six week camping trip across the country to Seattle, Washington and the Olympic Peninsula.

Marion is often asked to reveal the secret to her long life. She has a positive attitude, loves life, eats healthy, exercises every morning and is always ready to learn new things.  Each morning she enjoys a blend of apple cider vinegar and natural honey in a mug of warm water.