Bessie Ivey doesn’t get up quite as early as she used to, but she still has a bowl of Kellogg’s cereal for breakfast and has WBCK on in the background.   After all, she is 101 years old, as of November 29th, 2019.   Bessie was born in a log cabin near Tekonsha in 1918, and is the youngest of 11 of Frank and Louisa Thomas’ children.  There were three sets of twins among them.

Youngest Thomas Twins-Mary Ivey

Bessie’s twin passed away 35 years ago.  The rest are all gone too.   But her children Mary and Terry still live in the area, and some of her six grandsons too, along with nieces and nephews.

Thomas Family Cabin-Mary Ivey

After graduating from Tekonsha High School in 1936, Bessie went to Calhoun County Normal School where she graduated from the last class with a two-year teaching certificate.

Bessie worked a summer at Kellogg’s, and caught a ride from Tekonsha with a widower named Vernon Ivey.  The two were married in 1946 and moved to Ceresco.

She studied to be a teacher at Western Michigan University, then known at Western State Normal School.  In 1965 she earned a BS in Education and a Specialist Degree in teaching the Mentally Impaired.  That degree would come in handy after her husband Vernon passed away in 1968.  Bessie taught for 14 years in one room schoolhouses, and eventually retired from Marshall Schools where she was a special education teacher for 16 years. She retired in 1981.

Bessie also was a 40-year 4-H leader.  She led the Jolly Junior Club in Ceresco and another 4-H group with her Special Ed kids at Marshall.   She was awarded the "Legend of 4-H Award" in, which recognizes Calhoun County 4-H Leaders who have made a significant, long-term contribution of unselfish dedication and service to the Calhoun County 4-H Program.

Bessie Ivey-family photo
Bessie Ivey-family photo

Mary says Bessie has always been independent, and she still lives at home, with frequent visits from family and church members.   They had a reception at Ceresco Baptist Church last Sunday and at least 60 people showed up.

Bessie is still the treasurer of the Order of the Eastern Star in the area.  She’s had to slow down on the gardening, canning, cooking, and sewing that she taught so many to do for so many years.

It’s getting a little hard to hear on the phone, but if you’d like to send a card and well wishes, that would be appreciated.

Send it to:

Bessie Ivey

P.O. Box 35

Ceresco, MI  49033

Thomas Family-Bessie in the Middle-Mary Ivey

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