Allen County Centenarian Survives the Second Pandemic of Her Lifetime

Mar 10, 2021

Marguerite Carter, 107 of Scottsville, is one of the oldest Kentuckians to become vaccinated against COVID-19.
Credit Lisa Autry

At the age of 107, Marguerite Carter played the piano in her Allen County home earlier this month. That alone is pretty amazing, but try living through two "once-in-a-lifetime" pandemics. 

Carter has done just that. 

Margy, as her family calls her, lives in a two-story log house on a 60-acre horse farm in Allen County.  Her son and daughter-in-law also live on the property.  Earlier this month, the family invited me to the place Margy has called home for the past 40 years.

On a sunny and warm March day, Margy and her family were waiting for me on the patio outside her home.  She wore a red sweater, a blue plaid, pleated skirt, and red hat to keep the sun off her face. 

A centuray ago, Margy lived on a farm in Nebraska as a young child during the Spanish Flu of 1918.

"I suppose about six," Carter recalled of her age at the time.

Her voice is faint and so is her memory at times, but with a little help from her daughter-in-law Marilyn Carter, she acknowledged one of her brothers coming down with the virus.

"I remember you saying one time that your brother Fred had gotten pretty sick, but he survived," said Marilyn.

"Yes. I had a brother Fred, and he was really sick with it, but he was okay," answered Margy. "I come from a large family, and mother was kept busy taking care of all the children, but we survived.”

Margy had the mumps and whooping cough as a child before vaccines were available. She was one of 17 siblings.  Her daughter-in-law Marilyn says Margy had a sister who died from polio.

"She had polio and was restricted to a wheelchair or they carried her," Marilyn said

"Yes, that's right," recalled Margy.

Marilyn Carter assists her mother-in-law Marguerite Carter in Feb. at the Bowling Green Medical Center's vaccination clinic.
Credit Lisa Autry

"She died at a young age," Marilyn said. "She’s (Margy) certainly experienced the worst from not being able to have a vaccine.”

For someone who has beaten some odds, Margy Carter wasn’t going to gamble against the coronavirus. As soon as she became eligible under Kentucky’s vaccination plan, Margy received both injections.

Was she apprehensive about getting the injections? 

"No, I was just happy I was able to get it," Margy said.

"She watches TV and keeps up with the news, so she kept asking, 'When do I get my vaccine?,' when it was finally made available," said Marilyn.

According to Marilyn, her mother-in-law even persuaded a few of her friends to take the vaccine.

Over the past year, Margy has mostly stayed home and continued her healthy lifestyle. She attributes her longevity to her faith in God and a sense of gratitude.

"I have much to be thankful for," Margy said during a moment of reflection. "I exercise every day, and I try to eat healthfully. Kentucky has a lot of fruits and vegetables that are very good.”

The COVID-19 vaccine is changing seniors’ lives a year after the pandemic drove many in the high-risk group into isolation. At her age, Margy doesn’t leave home that often, so the past year hasn’t been a lot different, but she has missed having visitors. 

Toward the end of our interview, her voice had grown more tired, but I asked if there was anything else she’d like to say about COVID-19 0r the vaccine.  Her daughter-in-law spoke up for her.

"One of the things you told me was it’s the least a person can do for the other fella," she stated.

"That’s right," Margy replied.

At 107 years young, she still has music to make. When uur interview was over, Margy walked over to the piano to play me home with "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder."