Teens today would pay big money for Jeanne Pritchards
torn and battered blue jeans. She wears out about five pairs
a year, mostly in the knees from weeding her extensive garden
plots of flowers and vegetables around the farm where she has
lived since 1947.
After Hinckley High School, she went to floral arts school
in Chicago, then came back and worked for DeKalb Greenhouse,
then Johnsons in Sandwich. After marrying Earle Pritchard
(now deceased) in 1941, she has spent the rest of her life farming.
She has two sons, Don and Bob, five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
In remarkably good health for a woman 97 years old she
said she has no regular doctor, takes no medicine and still climbs
ladders, even though at age 92 she fell off one and broke her
femur. That happened after dark about 9 p.m.
Asked the usual question, To what does she owe her
longevity, she said, Its because the good Lord
had me working out in the fields and now the yard, which
she still does from morning to dusk. Her favorite foods: roast
beef and mashed potatoes with gravy, plus the vegetables from
Jeanne Pritchard sits astride her Toro riding mower,
ready to tackle acres of lawn and gardens on her Hinckley farm.
Over the years, she has taught Sunday school at three churches:
St. Pauls Evangelical (now United Church of Christ) in
Hinckley, the Pierce E.U.B. Church and the Foursquare Gospel
Church in DeKalb. She also served as Sunday school superintendent
at St. Pauls. Another outside activity of hers has been
giving demonstrations through Home Extension on floral arranging,
furniture refinishing and making pine cone wreaths.
Her son, Bob (our local state representative), said she
does a fine job of sewing, too. He and his brother wore many
shirts and pajamas she made for them from colorful feed sacks
during their early years.
When they operated the 200-acre farm, she and Earl raised
Black Angus cattle, pigs and chickens. They used to get up every
day at 4:30 a.m. to get all the work done before dark. Now her
grandson runs the farm.
Any favorite TV shows? She doesnt really have any,
as she spends evenings now reading farm magazines and religious
Although she drove tractors for many years, she said she
now limits her driving to the riding mowers. She owns two of
them, so she never has to stop when one runs out of gas.
I could see she was anxious to get back to work, sitting
astride her Toro mower with the engine still idling. As I was
leaving, she mentioned that it takes her nine hours to mow everything
around the farm. She even mows down her long lane, along the
road and down in the ditches.
I felt kind of sheepish, heading back home where the lawns
and weeding are all done for me. But then again, I am getting
up there in age, only 20 years younger than my interview subject.
And I take four kinds of medicine for what ails me. I didnt
mention all that to Mrs. Pritchard, though; shed think
I was a real wimp.
For those inquiring about the condition of Barry's wife
Kay who suffered a major stroke last April: she is improving
slowly in regaining her ability to speak with the help of Aphasia
and Apraxia therapists from NIU.