Gregg Home Resident Turns 104

Jan. 20–As years go, 1906 was a pretty happening year.

The Wright Brothers patented an airplane. The first radio set was advertised. The world’s first cinema opened in Paris. President Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter Alice was married in the White House. A census of the British Empire showed Britain ruled a fifth of the world. It was the year of the great San Francisco earthquake. And the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above a mighty 100 for the first time. And in Texas, on January 12, 1906, Tex Ritter was born. And so was Opal Matlock Bostick.

Some 104 years later, Bostick (having long outlived her birthday twin Tex Ritter) celebrated her birthday at Gregg Home in Kilgore, surrounded by family and friends. Bright-eyed and trim with a sweet strawberry tint to her hair, a corsage of roses at her shoulder and a party hat that said “Princess” and “104,” Bostick was unimpressed by her own advanced years. “That’s what they say,” she said with a bit of a smile when told she had reached the landmark birthday.

Born to E.D. and Elva Matlock on a ranch close to the community of Halfway in Hale County, she was the oldest of eight siblings. Opal Bostick remembered the distinctly un-automated existence of her childhood. Her daddy drove a freight wagon, hauling goods from Oklahoma to Texas with a team of 12 mules. When the family drove to town, they went in the hack, a horse-drawn wagon. As the oldest child, she had some decidedly un-girlish chores. Her evening chores were feeding the livestock, and then riding her own horse, Prince, out to the fields. “I rode my horse out to get the cows in,” she recalled.

She attended Plainview High School and Wayland College, and met her future husband, L.M., when he was hauling hay for her uncle. They had a double wedding with her sister and her husband, on the Running Water Dam in West Texas, and he became a railroad man before his passing in 1986. Bostick became a licensed vocational nurse after her children were in school, and worked at Gregg Home, where she is now a resident.

Her health declined somewhat after she broke her hip in 1990, but she retains an active interest in things going on. “She plays 42 out here, and she beats then all,” said her daughter Betsy Robertson of Kilgore. “I love to play dominoes. I just like the game,” Bostick said. “I play to win at any game I play, or I wouldn’t play it.” With just a little prompting, she launches into her favorite song, “Kitty Come Home.”

Her secret to longevity may well be genetic; both her parents lived to age 98. Her clean lifestyle may have helped; a member of Faith Baptist Church of Kilgore, she has stayed away from cigarettes and alcohol. “She’s always eaten right, and she’s always taken vitamins,” said Robertson.

But if you ask Opal Bostick what has given her strength each day for 104 years, she will tell you about attitude. “You take life easy … Having friends and family and loving everybody. “And I like being around and seeing my family happy,” she said with a smile. And when her handsome family gathered in pointed birthday hats to sing a Happy Birthday tribute to their matriarch, one well-wisher chimed in “and many more.” Bostick seemed to agree. “I’m going to live until the Lord comes and go with him,” she told her daughter.



Categories: The Press


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