Editor's note: This story is part of Southwest Michigan Second Wave's On the Ground Calhoun County series. As part of our regular coverage of all things Battle Creek and Calhoun County, in coming weeks On the Ground will be highlighting the centenarian stories on our website and social media platforms.
Frances Dahmer was born in 1917 and grew up in Canton, Ohio. Her dad, Oscar, worked on the railroad and her mom, Edna, was a homemaker. She was the youngest of four children. She had an older brother Merle, and two older sisters, Doris and Cleo.
Throughout her childhood the family had several dogs and cats, as the family was always taking in strays. Frances loved to draw and in fifth grade won a prize for the best poster, and the award was $5! Her dad was so excited, he gave her another $5, bringing her total prize money to $10. That was a lot of money back then!
Frances Dahmer says the favorite invention she has seen in her life is the television.
Frances graduated from high school in 1936 and went on to attend nurses training at East Side Hospital in Toledo, Ohio. While in training a young man came in to be treated for a hunting accident that left him with a gunshot wound to the neck. After he was released from the hospital they continued to stay in touch. As they got to know each other they talked about getting married one day. Her patient became her future husband, Jack.
When Jack was on his way back from construction work in Alaska, he wrote a letter to Frances asking if she could come out West so they could be married. She took the train to Seattle, Wash., where they were married in 1942. Shortly after Frances and Jack were married, he went to war. When he returned, they traveled extensively for his work. She spent time working in several different hospitals across California, Florida, and Minnesota, where their only child, Robert, was born in 1947 in Winona.
The family finally settled in Lansing when Robert was 10 years old. Frances worked on a variety of hospital floors, but her favorite was the regular floor. She spent 25 years working at a small hospital in Lansing before retiring.
Frances and her husband loved to dance. They mostly enjoyed ballroom and square dancing, but they dabbled in many different kinds. Frances also loves to listen to music, especially the Big Bands and still plays records every now and again. She has continued to be a voracious reader, now checking out Books on Tape from the library. She loved to bake and was especially good at making cakes.
Her son Robert is a builder now and she has two granddaughters and one grandson. Jack passed away in 1979, and Frances continued to live in Lansing until she turned 80 years old, and then moved to Battle Creek to be closer to her son and grandchildren. She has lived in several different apartment buildings around the city and was at Lakeview Meadows when it burned down.
Her happiest memory was when her son was born, and her saddest memory was when her husband passed away. During the hard times, Frances found she just had to keep on living to make it through. Her favorite invention has been the television and she says the secret to living a long life is to exercise and eat healthy.