In celebration of Centenarian’s Day this month, we had the pleasure of interviewing Lillian McConnell, a cherished member of our Morningside at Menger Springs community in Boerne, Texas, where she has resided for the past eight years. She had been living in San Antonio when she heard about Morningside and visited with her son. Remarkably youthful at the age of 101, Lillian reflected on her journey to our community and said, “It was a blessing to come here!”
At Morningside, Lillian is settled in her cozy apartment at the Overlook, where she stays actively engaged maintaining her own household. She is very independent, and thrives in the company of her friends, enjoying their camaraderie and activities playing cards together.
Lillian’s roots stretch back to the small town of Starbuck, Minnesota. Although an only child, she was never really alone. “Everybody in a small town has friends,” Lillian says. She fondly recalled her childhood spent by the lakes, where there were always outdoor games and athletics, and the playing of music. In those days, the schools and churches always had activities that revolved around music as part of the community, an environment that nurtured Lillian’s growth as an instrumentalist. Among her favorite childhood memories was the delightful time she spent playing with her close friend Sylvia, who lived just across the street. Additionally, Lillian had the joy of owning a real dollhouse during those days, a source of boundless imagination and creativity.
Lillian says her favorite decade was the 1940s, during her high school years, which were filled with youthful exuberance. In high school, she worked during the summers and was the valedictorian of her class of 1940. She later attended Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, where she continued to work tirelessly, balancing academics with her passion for music. She was a gifted musician, playing the piano, organ, and string bass in churches around the state of Minnesota.
Just three years after high school, she tied the knot with her husband Rodney in 1943, whom she was married to for 69 years. Rodney, a chemical engineer, worked in the field of oil and gas research, which involved extensive travel. During World War II, when Rodney joined the service, Lillian worked at a school as a clerk on the home front. Their life together was a journey of adventure, moving from Minnesota to St. Louis, Missouri, where the couple raised two sons, David and John, to Detroit, and eventually to Texas in 1974, where they decided to put down more permanent roots. Lillian recalled that in those days on the move, it felt like they were discovering a different city every night. Throughout their travels, St. Louis held a special place in their hearts, where they held many precious memories.
In talking about being a centenarian, she reflected on life’s passage with wisdom and grace. When we asked her how it felt to be 101, she replied, “To tell you the truth, it’s not much different than when you were 91.” She acknowledged that it had become more challenging to keep her body going, but her spirit remained unyielding. Her secret to a long and healthy life? “I am a Viking!” she proclaimed.
In the quiet moments between friends and community activities at Morningside, Lillian finds solace in her needlework art. She patiently works on her needlepoint projects, which takes about a season to complete one. Lillian advises, “Pick it up when you aren’t doing anything else. Needlepoint is fun.” Even at 101, she still embraces her needlework with enthusiasm. In the past, Lillian has participated in the Menger Springs art show to display her exquisite needlework. She keeps herself busy, diligently tending to her home and ensuring that every day at Morningside is a day filled with joy and purpose. Lillian McConnell is a role model for a life well-lived, where music, friendship, love, and a dash of needlework have woven a tapestry of wonderful memories.