BEDFORD DAILY TIMES MAIL
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 18, 1991
LELAH KIRKMAN WILL BE 100 YEARS OLD SUNDAY; SHE'S AVOCA'S OLDEST RESIDENT
Lelah Kirkman is thankful for her good health, the fact that she can walk well, and that she is still able to cook and keep house for herself.
Avoca's oldest resident, she will be 100 years old Sunday, Oct. 20.
"I'm happy that I'm about to reach 100," explained Mrs. Kirkman, who has lived in the same house atop a hill on North Pike Road nearly 80 years.
"To be able to get this far, I give a lot of thanks to God and am very thankful to my family," she added. "I don't know what a person would do without a family."
Four of her five children are still living, ranging in age from 64 to 82. She has five grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.
All of them will be honoring Mrs. Kirkman at a reception this Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Stonehenge Lodge in Bedford. Her relatives and friends are invited to share in the occasion. The family has indicated that cards will be appreciated but asked that gifts be omitted.
"I've got a lot of friends, but they're not 100 years old," she said. "Most of my old friends are gone now."
Mrs. Kirkman's hearing is slightly impaired and for the past few years she has been unable to read a newspaper.
"But I still love to quote poetry," she said. "I've been doing that since I was a young girl."
Always a great reader, she used to entertain members of the Avoca Vale Grandmothers Club (of which she is a charter member) and the Avoca Baptist Church, where she belongs.
Her favorite poems she recites are "My Get Up and Go Has Got Up and Went" and "There is a Green Hill Far Away."
Mrs. Kirkman not only cleans her house, mops the floors and sweeps the porch, but cooks most of her own meals.
"I'm up by 8 o'clock, have toast and coffee for breakfast, then wash the dishes and make my bed," she said. "For lunch I like TV dinners, and I eat pretty light in the evening."
"But I'm proud that I can get around without using a walker, and I love to keep house," she added.
She watches TV news programs and shows like "Jeopardy," and is in bed about 11 p.m.
A conversation with Mrs. Kirkman reveals a remarkable memory and a good sense of humor. She recalls she was born on a farm near Gullett's Creek north of Avoca in 1891. She walked a mile to attend the one-room Anderson school through eighth grade. Then she moved to the Logan community, attending Little Valley school another 1 1/2 years.
"There was no high school in the area then, and a lot of students took eighth grade more than one year," she remembered. "I loved school, especially history."
She left school at 16 and married Noeful Brinegar when she was 17. They lived in Needmore three years, where he operated a grocery. Then he went to work in the limestone quarries and they moved back to Avoca.
"He took me riding in his horse and buggy," she recalled. "We went ice skating, sleigh riding and square danced some. There was no radio then."
"We had our first car, a Ford, when Noeful ran the grocery," Mrs. Kirkman added. "It was one of the first cars in Needmore. I had seen my first car when I was 12 or 13. It was driven by our mailman."
Mr. Brinegar died during the 1918 flu epidemic. "Our three children at the time and I also had the flu, but we managed to make it through," she explained.
After World War I she worked two years at the old Reliance Manufacturing Co. (now M. Fine & Sons) in Bedford, sewing collars and pockets on shirts.
She married Clarence Kirkman in 1920. A World War I veteran, he had been gassed while serving on the front lines in France. He was a blacksmith in the stone quarries several years before retiring in 1967. He died in 1983.
Mrs. Kirkman worked at Crane during World War II, helping to make parachutes. Three of her four sons served in the war, the fact of which she was quite proud.
Her children include one daughter, Annetta Kastner of Elkhart; and three sons, Bill Kirkman of Bedford, George Kirkman of Avoca and Harold Brinegar of Kokomo.
Although she says she prefers pie to cake, she plans to eat a piece of her birthday cake this weekend.
"I've had a pretty good life, and I'm looking forward to my party," Mrs. Kirkman said. "I'll be glad to see everybody, but I'll be happy when it's all over, too."
DAILY TIMES MAIL
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 1994
OCT. 20, 1891 - NOV. 27, 1994
Lelah Kirkman, 103, R. 2, Springville, died at 10:48 a.m. Sunday at Bedford Regional Medical Center. She had been ill five months.
Born in Lawrence County, she was the daughter of Joseph and Jane (Smith) Lewis. She first married Noeful Brinegar Dec. 2, 1908 and he died Dec. 9, 1918. She married Clarence S. Kirkman June 12, 1920 and he died March 13,1983.
She was a homemaker, a member of Avoca Baptist Church and a charter member of Avoca Vale Grandmothers Club.
Survivors include one daughter, Mrs. Harold (Annetta) Kastner of Elkhart; three sons: Harold F. Brinegar and William "Bill" Kirkman, both of Bedford, and George Kirkman of Avoca; five grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, six great-great-grandchildren and one great-great-great-grandchild.
Service will be 11 a.m. Wednesday at Day & Carter Mortuary, Bedford, with the Revs. Bob Cherry and Bob Kirkman officiating. Burial will follow at Hilltop Cemetery in Avoca.
Friends may call from 2-8 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home.
Lelah Kirkman, 103, R. 2, Springville, who died Sunday, was preceded in death by one son, Darrel M. Brinegar. Information was provided by Day & Carter Mortuary, Bedford.