Elmira Simon to celebrate 105th birthday this August 6

Long-timeBoydresidentborn in 1917, now resides at Chippewa Falls

by Joseph Back

A longtime Boyd resident now of Chippewa Falls named Elmira Simon is about to celebrate a rare milestone: turning 105 years old this August 6. In case there’s any doubt or incredulity regarding the accom plishment, Elmira shows up in the Boyd locals section of the newspaper from August 10, 1917, on page 2: "Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Shilts are rejoicing over the arrival of a baby girl, born August 6." A lot can happen over 105 years, one example being the Constitution. When Elmira was born back in 1917, women couldn’t vote in elections at the federal level. Now they can, thanks to the work of voting rights ad vocates called suuragettes, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution passing when Elmira was just six years old. Another example, is the rise and fall of empires.

Back when Elmira was born Kiev, Ukraine was known as belonging to "European Russia," with unrest reported under Russian Czar Nicholas II suggesting in turn that not everyone agreed. Born months before the October Revolution that toppled the Czar and set up the first communist state a world away, Elmira also saw it all end in 1991, with the unexpected bankruptcy and dissolution of the Soviet Union, fueled by internal independence and protest movements within various Soviet republics.

Making the Boyd locals section several times over the years, meanwhile, the Shilts family lived its life quietly through the otherwise roaring 1920s, with El- mira and her parents mentioned as attending a Ladies Aid meeting for St. Peter's Lutheran in March of 1922, when Elmira was just five years old.

The Ladies Aid of St. Peter's Lutheran would become important in Elmira's life as she herself became a member.

"She's always been a member of St. Peters' church in Boyd," daughter Diane shared recently. St. Peter's has been through change itself, including a new build – ing, after the one it previously inhabited became too small. As such, a Catholic Church at Wilson and itself called St. Peter's, was purchased for Lutheran use at Boyd, being moved down the highway and into place after the dawn of the 2000s, when Elmira was already past the age of 80. Before it gave way to the new building, the old St. Peter's Lutheran was a place square to rectangular in shape, measuring some 17 feet to the eaves, with stove heat and lamps for light as of 1912.

Back when Elmira was just 10 years old, she was riding in a pea wagon from the old pea canning facto ry in Boyd when she jumped ou and was struck by a car-"what I would guess was a Model T," daughter Diane relates. Elmira wasn't seriously injured, but a doctor was called and no tickets issued, Diane says. To this day Elmira has a copy of the Boyd paper describ- ing this event. Among the newspapers that have chron icled life at Boyd are the Boyd Times-Herald and Boyd Bee, kept in part at the history room located at 705 East Murray Street, in Boyd.

With Elmira born at a time when one room county schools each formed their own district and Boyd had not yet voted to join Stanley in its educational endeav ors, she graduated from Boyd High School in 1934, a multistory building located north on Reynolds Street ou of Murray, and measuring 32 feet to the eaves. At

See BIRTHDAY, Page 5

Elmira Simon. Submitted photo. BIRTHDAY

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the time, graduating high school was an achievement in itself, with many stopping their education at the eighth grade. Of the 17 graduates from the Boyd High School Class of 1934, Elmira is the only one left. Making it to 105 years old was rare in 1917, and still is today.

Working at Chippewa Falls for a time after she graduated, Elmira went on to marry Stanley resident and U. S. Navy man Clayton Simon in 1938, with five children born to their union, including David, Dennis, Sandra, Sharon, and Diane. Mr. Simon worked as a cheese grader for a cheese factory for several years along with employment by the Village of Boyd, while Elmira helped out in the cheese factory ovce. When Clayton passed away in 1997 after nearly six decades of marriage, the couple could boast 13 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, with one grandchild (Karen) preceding Clayton in death.

Marking the start of the Twenty First Century from Boyd, Wisconsin, meanwhile, Elmira lived through the fear and panic surrounding Y2K (caused by computers and faulty programming assumptions) as well as the unrelated September 11 attacks that followed within two years and led to war breaking out, having previously seen World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Operation Desert Storm within her lifetime.

Living over the years in Boyd, Stanley, and now Chippewa Falls, Elmira has seen a lot. Among the insights she has to share from her 105 years is a saying: "Don't feel sorry for yourself, stay positive," along with always being thankful for her faith, family and friends. Among those friends are Forest and Stepha nie Supple as well as Johanna Duss, who continue to visit her often, according to daughter Diane Baker. Happy Birthday Elmira, from all your family!

August 3, 2022