Petoskey’s Betty Munson turns 100

PETOSKEY – Petoskey’s Betty Munson has always been willing to try something new or go places she’s never been.

“That’s probably the biggest thing about my mom that impressed me,” said Munson’s son, Keith Munson, of Petoskey. “After college I moved to England and bought a motorbike and she came and rode with me for a week.

“At the time, few people would say it was wise to buy a motorcycle,” Keith Munson said. “Just the fact that she trusted us in this way speaks volumes.”

Munson, who has lived in her Jefferson Avenue home in Petoskey since 1950 after she and her late husband moved to the area, celebrated her 100th birthday on Tuesday, Feb. 1, at her home.

When asked how she felt about turning 100, Munson was quick to respond.

“It’s the same as 99, just another day,” she said.

Munson, a Boyne Falls native who moved to Petoskey in 1933, has always been a very social person, according to his daughter Leslie Hoover, and has had many friends over the years. Many of them are friends Munson met while still active, including as an impressive 87-year-old parishioner at her First Baptist Church in Petoskey, formerly known as Parr Memorial.

“For some reason, I’m the oldest member there,” Munson said with a laugh.

Munson said her father worked for an independent telephone company and when she was younger her family moved around a lot. It was his mother’s dream, however, to always live in Petoskey.

“I was in middle school when we moved here,” she said. “They finally had the chance to come up here.”

After graduating from Petoskey High School in 1939, she soon married her husband, Woodrow, who was from Boyne City during World War II. The two got married in Florida.

“I was 19 and I lived in Detroit and my husband said when he became a staff sergeant he was going to buy me a ring and I could come over and we’d get married, and that’s what happened,” Munson said.

On the train ride from Detroit to South Florida, Betty’s suitcase was lost and had to carry what she wore on the train during her wedding ceremony.

“Nobody knew us anyway,” she said.

Munson worked at North Central Michigan College for about 28 years as a secretary after enrolling in the college when it started in 1959, the same year Woodrow died.

She had also wintered in Lakeland, Florida for about 25 years, where she traveled with her daughter’s mother-in-law to be closer to the friends she had made. Her youngest son, Nels, said part of her desire to be in Lakeland during the winter months was that she was a huge Detroit Tigers fan, and Lakeland is the spring training home of the Detroit Tigers. Tigers.

Growing up, she often played baseball with “the boys”, and she remembers sharing a bike with her sister and spending time at the roller rink, which is where she met her husband.

She also worked at the Popcorn King, which was a small business located next to the old Petoskey Cinema.

“They didn’t have concessions in theaters at the time,” Munson said.

During World War II, Munson lived in Detroit and worked in the defense factory making aircraft bolts, where she was for about a year before traveling to Florida to get married. She also made life jackets for the United States Navy and then cuffs for military uniforms after her marriage.

“We couldn’t go out a lot because they wanted everyone to stay home, but we did go out a bit,” Munson said, recalling World War II. “There were a lot of things you couldn’t get, like sugar, and other things were hard to come by.

“When the war was over, everyone was happy.”

As for her longevity secret, Munson said she really has none.

“I just live a good, clean life,” she said. “I don’t drink or smoke.”

She enjoys flower arranging, gardening, sewing, ceramics and calligraphy and regularly participates in water aerobics each week.

“When my kids were in school, she helped design the costumes for the Madrigals, which is no small feat,” Hoover said. “They are very elaborate.”

Hoover added that during the COVID-19 pandemic, her mother kept herself busy making various wall hangings for the family, including grandchildren and great-grandchildren, of whom she has eight grandchildren and 14. great-grandchildren.

She also watches what she eats, but enjoys the occasional vanilla ice cream. Nels said she still cooks almost all of her meals daily.

“I learned to stick to fruits and vegetables,” Munson said.

Betty Munson (front) of Petoskey celebrated her 100th birthday on Tuesday, Feb. 1, at her longtime home on Jefferson Avenue in downtown Petoskey.  Pictured with Munson are her children Nels Munson (from left) Leslie Hoover and Keith Munson.

Hoover noted that her mother never forced her or her siblings to do or not do anything, but served as a great example of how to model your life.

“She always trusted God for all her needs, and her faith was always important to her,” Hoover said.

While her immediate family and church held small celebrations in her honor ahead of her birthday, a larger celebration with more family is in the works for June.

“I think the most important thing for me was raising my kids right so they couldn’t get too wrong,” Munson said. “I always went to church and gave my heart to God.

“I think it helped me a lot.”


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