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Lifelong Rosebush resident reflects on life in two centuries

On a Saturday a century ago, Ruth W. Smith – then Ruth Varney – was born in Rosebush.

For all of her 100 years she has called mid-Michigan her home.

While some Isabella County towns have grown since April 13 of 1918 and now, Smith remembers a time when now-quiet Rosebush was bustling.

In its heyday on Old Mission – once a busy thorough way – Rosebush boasted hardware stores, multiple banks, grocery stores, a close-knit and actively growing community and more.

“Now it’s all gone and Rosebush is quiet,” Smith’s son Larry Smith said. “She has said that she liked the local people, the close community, the bustle.”

As car ownership became more common for families across the county, state highways were built through rural communities; once heavily-used routes like Old Mission slowly became “the back way,” and the lack of traffic took its toll on small towns.

Those more modern times reached Rosebush during Smith’s early years; she remembers her family traveling by horse and buggy and she remembers when they bought their first car, a Model T.

The middle of three girls, Smith has outlived both of her sisters, and on Friday the 13th she will be the first in the family to reach her 100th birthday.

“I joined the Baptist church when I was 12,” she said; Larry noted that she reads her bible often, attributing her longevity in part to her faith.

“It seem to help her; it helps me too,” He said.

A mostly-vegetarian diet, a love of walking through most her life and a happy disposition in general all may be her secrets to a long life, though it takes Smith a minute to come up with an answer at all.

“How did I live to 100? I don’t know,” she laughed. “I just did.”

His mother was always a “happy housewife” Larry said; his father, Don Smith, commuted to work at Dow Chemical in Midland for 30 years while Ruth stayed home with Larry, his two brothers and a sister.

Plenty of grandchildren and one great-granddaughter now fill Ruth’s family tree as well; some plan to attend her 100th birthday party Saturday, hosted where she now lives at the Isabella County Medical Care Facility.

Cake, cards and more are part of the birthday celebration plans; cards may be sent to Ruth Smith at 222 North Drive Rm# 141, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858.

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