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A young 98: Birthday girl still working in St. Charles cafeteria


August 24. 2013 4:25AM
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LIMA — Twice this week, she helped prepare for lunch time at St. Charles Catholic School, washed dishes and did whatever else was asked of her. Also this week — today actually — Juanita “Jay” Sain turned 98.“She is a woman that has more energy than any 25-year-old woman I know,” said Patti DePalma, who works in the school cafeteria. “She always wants to be working. She's on her feet the whole time.”Sain, who puts in five hours a week, has been volunteering in the school cafeteria for 20 years. She started soon after moving to Lima from Michigan when her husband died. Her daughter lived here. Sain's daughter, the late Isabel “Izzie” Kenney, taught at the school for almost 20 years, including as she battled cancer. She lost the battle in 2006. Her daughter is how Sain got started volunteering at the school. She also did craft work for the St. Rita's Medical Center Auxiliary until she started having some trouble with her eyesight.Sain is relatively healthy, boasting that she only takes four or five pills a day compared to the 15 or 16 some half her age endure. She survived a bad car accident at age 70. “I try to walk every day, if the weather is all right,” she said, adding that she also goes to exercise classes at Primrose Retirement Community, where she has lived in an apartment for the past five years. She says she exercised a lot when younger, including playing basketball in school. Today, the Michigan fan stays up late watching games on television.Mostly, Sain credits her two grown granddaughters, Christie and Patricia, to keeping her in good health.“I really think it is my two grandchildren that keep me going,” she said. “When my daughter passed away, she asked me if I would see that they are all right.”Being around the St. Charles pupils isn't bad either. It's really why Sain keeps catching a ride into work each week. The pupils often call her “Mrs. Kenney” because or her daughter. She doesn't mind one bit.“I've got to keep going because I love these kids. They are something,” she said, adding that the “crew” she works with is very good to her. “I don't know. It just does something to me when I come here.”Her co-workers and pupils surprised Sain with cards and a birthday cake Thursday. Her co-workers love her sense of humor and that she is “spunky.” They also love those tins of peanut brittle she makes for them every Christmas.“She is just kind of our hero,” volunteer Cathy Ahman said. “She is a character. She just comes up with things you wouldn't normally think a 98-year-old would.”“She is a very special lady,” DePalma added.Sain, on the other hand, is not sure what the big deal is about. She's just happy her birthday means a visit home from one of her granddaughters. A pedicure is planned. She doesn't mind getting older and does not think turning 98 is anything special.“I think I am probably just fortunate,” she said. “I don't take many pills. I don't have very many aches and pains. The good Lord has been good to me.”Sain was among eight children in her family, growing up in Boise, Idaho, during the Great Depression. Only she and two brothers, ages 92 and 86, remain. She still travels by plane once a year to see them both in Arizona and Idaho. She grew up in a time when pupils took home economics and were graded on their penmanship. Today she sees pupils texting and attached to every electronic device possible and wonders what the fuss is all about. She has a cellphone, but vows to stay away from computers.“I don't even want to learn,” she said. “If I was 20 years longer, yes.”Sain will put her two days in at St. Charles for as long as she is able, saying she is ready for next school year. The “kids” keep her going, as does the possibility of one day becoming a great-grandmother.“None yet. I was hoping,” she said. “They [granddaughters] are in their 30s, but no hurry.”






A young 98: Birthday girl still working in St. Charles cafeteria


A young 98: Birthday girl still working in St. Charles cafeteria


A young 98: Birthday girl still working in St. Charles cafeteria


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