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June 24, 2012

No regrets for Estes as she looks back on last 100 years

DUNCAN — When you can mark the beginning of your life 100 years in the past, look back and say “No one has had a better life than I have had,” that is a special achievement.

Tiny Estes made that statement about her life, which began on June 26, 1912. From the Roaring ‘20s to the Great Depression, two World Wars, a man walking on the moon, the creation of cell phones and computers and many other world changing events, Tiny has seen it all.

Born in Retrop, Tiny was the oldest of 10 children and remarked that there were plenty of good times growing up. She said she and her siblings never got into trouble, but if they started toward that path, the spinster aunt who lived with them would “pick us up and give us a good blister.” Two of her sisters, Crawford Cowles of Texas and Madge Harvey of California, are still living.

She first began going to school by traveling on foot or in a paddy wagon. Tiny graduated from high school at the age of 16 after skipping a couple of grades because of her high intellect. Once she was done with school, her dream was to get married and have a family.

“I got a good man,” she said of her late husband, her eyes shining with the great love she still feels for him.

In 1929, when Tiny was 17, she and Fred married in her parents home.

He passed in April 1973. They raised four children: Bill, Nona, F.L. and Marva. Bill passed in 2003, Nona and husband Orval Blankenship live in Ruidoso Downs, N.M., F.L. and wife Donna live in Duncan and Marva and husband Norbin Taylor live in Del Rio, Texas.

The couple lived several places throughout their marriage while Fred was looking for work.

They raised their oldest children in Anton, Texas, and lived for a while also in Littlefield, Texas. They then moved to Oklahoma City where they raised their younger two children.

In 1972, they moved to Lake Humphrey and after Fred died, Tiny worked at Clear Creek Concession and managed the Stephens County Courthouse snack bar until 1983. After some time in Ruidoso Downs, N.M., Tiny moved back to Duncan in 2009, to live with her son, F.L. and Donna.

“I have loved everywhere I have lived,” said Tiny.

Tiny gives credit to her long life to healthy living and a great faith in the Lord.

Saved at the age of 12 in a Methodist church, she said she has always enjoyed going to services.

“Church has always been good for me,” she said. “I remember being four-years-old sitting in church swinging my legs and I enjoyed it so much.”

That faith helped shape Tiny into someone who was blessed with the gift of cooking, and would share her recipes with anyone who asked.

She also enjoyed sewing and would make all her daughter’s dresses as well as anything else that was needed.

“She didn’t have much money but she could look at a store dress and go home and make it,” said Donna.

Donna and Tiny’s relationship goes back to before Donna married F.L. Donna was also close friends with Marva and they spent much time together.

“Before Marva and I could drive, Tiny would drive us wherever we needed to go,” said Donna. “If we passed a group of boys, she would honk her horn several times and say ‘Wave, girls!’ She was the instigator.”

While F.L. works at the courthouse, Tiny’s daughter-in-law spends her time taking care of her. After all Tiny has done for her family, Donna said taking care of her mother-in-law is a joy.

“When F.L. and I were young and married, if we needed any help with money or anything, she was always willing to help us out,” said Donna. “Now it is my turn to take care of her, she has already paid me back with all she has done.”

F.L. feels much the same way.

“It’s just a pleasure to have her with us and we enjoy being there for her,” F.L. said. “She’s always been there for us and has been a good mother.”

Tiny now lays claim to 10 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and 25 great-great-grandchildren.

To honor Tiny for her 100th birthday, the family planned a celebration, which was Saturday, June 23, at Shady Oaks RV Park club house.

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