Former Fulton matron celebrates 100 years

Wilma Johnston, formerly of Fulton, recently celebrated her 100th birthday. She said her best advice for living a long, healthy life is to try to be happy.

Wilma Johnston, formerly of Fulton, recently celebrated her 100th birthday. She said her best advice for living a long, healthy life is to try to be happy.

Having recently celebrated a century of life, former longtime Fulton resident Wilma Johnston has seen many changes and innovations in the world around her. Asked what the most exciting change has been, however, revealed a deeper interest in what changes have yet to come.

“When I see the children walking around with ipods, I just wonder what’s going to happen in the next ten years,” said Johnston, who turned 100 on July 6. “It seems almost impossible all of the changes that have occurred.”

Johnston and her late husband, Virgil A. Johnston — a former owner and editor of The Fulton Sun — moved from Fulton to Albert Lea, Minnesota eight years ago to be closer to their son Joe and his family. Although Wilma Johnston said she is enjoying her time there, some of her favorite life changes occurred during her time in Fulton.

“I miss Fulton. We lived there a long time and had a lot of nice friends,” Johnston said. “It was just a nice place to live — it had a lot of good things for me.”

Johnston said she first moved to Fulton in 1937 when the Richmond native was transferred there from the Columbia office of the Soil Conservation Department. Two years later she met Virgil.

“I was eating at a restaurant across the street from a bus stop and my husband told the lady that sent out the buses, ‘I want to meet that girl,’ so she introduced us,” Johnston recalled.

During her time in Fulton, Johnston raised three children — Judy, George and Joe — was involved with the P.E.O., led Cub Scout and Girl Scout troops, was active with First Christian Church, worked in the William Woods College registrar’s office and was an avid bridge player.

“My wife says the best compliment my mother ever received was that she played bridge like a man,” Joe Johnston said.

Longtime friend Marguerite McClain, who worked with Johnston in the William Woods registrar’s office, noted that it was she who introduced her to the game.

“Her husband and my husband were friends — they had coffee together most mornings — and we went on trips with the Gold Leaf Club together,” McClain said. “After my husband died she introduced me to the bridge club and I joined the country club.

“There are friends and there are friends, and she is a good friend.”

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