The Columbus Dispatch

WWII nurse celebrates her 100th birthday in Marion

Martha Ellen Geyer Kubbs: ‘I was given the best of everything’

- Sophia Veneziano

She served as a nurse during World War II. She met Amelia Earhart at a church retreat and received her diploma from the hands of Henry Ford.

Still, Martha Ellen Geyer Kubbs did not list any of these stories as her most important takeaway from her 100 years of life.

Instead she said: her family.

“I was given the best of everything,” the Mt. Gilead native and mother of four said.

She celebrated her 100th birthday Tuesday in her current home of Marion’s Dewolfe Place Senior Living surrounded by adoring staff members and filled with visits and phone calls from her beloved family.

Sitting in Dewolfe Place Tuesday, Geyer Kubbs noted that she had a lot of phone calls to take, pausing to happily listen to her answering machine as her grandson John sang her “Happy Birthday.”

A woman of kindness and spirit, Geyer Kubbs said she learned her love of family from her own mother and father who raised not only her but also her five sisters and three brothers.

Her father was a good man, she said, not yelling or striking the children. For discipline, he merely would lift an eyebrow and “they knew.”

“I really was fortunate and had the best mother and father that anybody could have,” she said.

Her parents raised the nine children as regular church-goers, and it was at a church retreat as a young girl that Geyer Kubbs met Amelia Earhart.

“Our church group would go up to a place along a lake for a summer, and one year, the year before she disappeare­d, she spoke to our group. She was tall, thin, and she wore a green satin dress,” she said.

“She talked to the whole group. But the next year she and this Mr. Noonan disappeare­d, and they never found them.”

Upon adulthood, Geyer Kubbs went into nursing, earning her diploma from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

Henry Ford himself handed her the diploma the year before he passed and Geyer Kubbs received a pin from Clara Bryant Ford, his wife.

“He was a little man, a very little man,” she reflected.

Still, as she was earning her nursing training, the world was in crisis.

Geyer Kubbs chose to serve as a nurse at Percy Jones General Hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan to care for the wounded coming back from the War in the Pacific.

“As a nurse I was getting my training and the Army asked if I wanted to sign up for the Army so they formed a cadet nursing corps and my three years of nursing were all as a student nurse,” she said.

Looking back, she recounted the tragedy she saw during her time at Percy Jones.

“The war ended and they were sending the injured boys from the West Pacific war over to San Francisco and then they sent ‘em up to Percy Jones General Hospital, and that’s where I took care of the boys,” she said.

“Their skin was burned off, and a lot of them didn’t want to go back to their home because they lost an arm or a leg. One boy lost all four limbs, and he rode around on a little cart with wheels. It was unbelievab­le, the injured soldiers. They were all Midwestern boys.”

This compassion for others is still evident in her love for life, Dewolfe Place Executive Director Jessica Morgan said.

“Martha is just such a gem all the way around - so kind hearted and always worried about others before herself. She spent her whole life being a doctor’s wife, and she was a nurse and she just cares about people,” Morgan explained.

“She didn’t want us to make a big deal about her 100th birthday yesterday because she always says, ‘I’ve lived such a good life and I’m happy with it.’”

Above her service and her stories,

Geyer Kubbs’ dedication to her family was truly her driving force.

After she married her husband, Family Physician Dr. Francis W. Kubbs, the couple moved to California for his medical internship, where he wanted to stay long-term.

“I said my family is back in Ohio. And I won,” she said.

They would go on to settle in Morrow County once again and raise four children of their own, Sandy, Cathy, Kipp and Chris.

The most special part of the life they lived together?

“Contacts with our family. That’s what I’d say,” she said, now a grandmothe­r to nine and great-grandmothe­r to 10.

Beaming with pride at the four state championsh­ips, two in football and two in baseball, her son Chris won for Pleasant Local Schools, Geyer Kubbs also shared the tragedy of losing her eldest son, Kipp, last year.

Her love of family was not unapprecia­ted: her family showed up to celebrate her.

Chris’ wife, Julie, carried a cake and music stands into Dewolfe Place to play church bells for her because though her eyesight is failing, she can still hear.

“Everyone’s mother-in-law should live to be 100 when they’re that sweet,” Julie Kubbs said.

Story by: Sophia Veneziano (740) 564 - 5243 | sveneziano@gannett.com

 ?? PHOTOS BY SOPHIA VENEZIANO/MARION STAR ?? WWII nurse Martha Ellen Geyer Kubbs celebrated her 100th birthday Tuesday with members of her beloved family and staff of Dewolfe Place Senior Living.
PHOTOS BY SOPHIA VENEZIANO/MARION STAR WWII nurse Martha Ellen Geyer Kubbs celebrated her 100th birthday Tuesday with members of her beloved family and staff of Dewolfe Place Senior Living.
 ?? ?? WWII nurse Martha Ellen Geyer Kubbs was born in 1922 and celebrated her 100th birthday Tuesday.
WWII nurse Martha Ellen Geyer Kubbs was born in 1922 and celebrated her 100th birthday Tuesday.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States