Centenarian: Voting a civic duty not to be avoided

By CHRIS GARDNER
Republican-American

SOUTHBURY, Conn. (AP) _ Margaret Silver’s ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She hasn’t forgotten that sacrifice.

At 105 years old, the Heritage Village woman still visits the firehouse every Election Day to fill in the ovals on her ballot.

“It might stir some people up to vote if they see this 105-year-old woman out there voting,” said her daughter, Elizabeth. “It’s civic duty. It’s as simple as that. It’s a privilege that we have in this country that many other countries don’t have, and we fought hard for that.”

Silver, who was born in Minneapolis in 1909 when William Howard Taft was president, caused something of a stir shortly before 4 on Election Day afternoon when she stopped by the firehouse to vote.

Election workers greeted her warmly, then led her to a chair behind a partition where she could cast her ballot with the help of her daughter, who read the candidates’ names because her mother’s eyesight has been compromised by macular degeneration. Her friends and neighbors, Roseann Franco and Marge Dunscomb, looked on and congratulated her when she finished.

She exchanged pleasantries with JoAnn Bolin and Marie Greene, the registrars of voters, and then shook hands with Rep. Arthur J. O’Neill, R-Southbury, who waited for her in the parking lot.

“Thank you for voting,” he said.

“I voted for the right people,” she said with a smile and a wink.

Silver, a lifelong Republican, said she generally votes straight GOP. She couldn’t recall the last time she voted for a Democrat. “I think I have, but not for a long time,” she said.

What really matters, her friends and election officials said, is that the centenarian still takes the time even at her advanced age to get out and vote. Rarely does she opt to vote by absentee ballot; she’d rather come down to the firehouse and choose her candidates in person.

“She doesn’t miss a thing,” said Bolin, who noted that Silver has voted in every primary, referendum and general election for at least nine years, as far back as registrars keep records.

Silver, who goes by Peg, said she can’t remember the last time she missed a vote. “I think that it’s an American thing to do, to vote, and I like to be an American,” she said.

Silver and her late husband, Edward, moved to Heritage Village just after the first condominiums were built in 1970. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in art, then moved to New York to study at Parsons School of Design. She taught art at a public high school in New York, then worked as an interior designer.

The family lived in Brooklyn Heights, where Elizabeth Silver and her brother, Edward, were raised. Elizabeth Silver moved to Heritage Village 17 years ago to live with her mother, and the two are very close.

Her mother remains a picture of health, and has an exceptional memory. Her secret? Oatmeal for breakfast and a daily dose of magnesium.

She doesn’t take vitamins or medication.

She did need to have a pacemaker installed at Waterbury Hospital last fall to regulate her heartbeat. Doctors told her she was the oldest person to have the surgery at the hospital.

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