Twilia Mackey, a resident of Monticello, began the celebration of her one hundred and third birthday on Oct. 2 with a gathering at the local McDonald’s. That was just the beginning of many other celebrations to come with family and friends during the week.
Twilia was born at home to John and Callie Valentine on October 2, 1916, the year that Woodrow Wilson had just been reelected to a new term as President of the United States, and Edward Fitzsimmons Dunne was the Governor of Illinois. Twilia’s parents were farmers in the White Heath area of Piatt County. Twilia was the third of six children born to the couple.
Twilia’s elementary education was in a one room school called White School. She recalls that the Piatt County Superintendent was George Sutton. She continued her education in Monticello. There was not a bus to pick her up and deliver her into town. Sometimes she stayed with her Aunt Kate Valentine, a teacher who lived just east of the cemetery. Most of the time she walked to the school, which was quite some distance. Her education was completed when in 1936 she graduated from Monticello High School. Twilia’s graduation dress had scallops, she remembers, and was blue, her favorite color. To earn money to purchase her dress, she sold magazine subscriptions from door to door.
Twilia became acquainted with Stanley Mackey when they were both attending the Centerville Methodist Church. Stanley lived North West of the Sangamon River and Twilia lived South East of the river. Courting was often made difficult when the river bottom was not dry, which meant having to walk all the way around the section to where the bridge crossed the river.
The blue graduation dress became the wedding dress when Twilia and Stanley were married on December 5, 1936 in White Heath. They moved to a farm where Stanley was the hired man. They soon had their own farm and spent their entire life farming in the Cisco area until they retired in 1993.They had four children John, Jean, Joyce, and Joe.
Learning has never never ended for Twilia. She was always involved in many activities and organizations such as 4-H, Bowling, PTA, and is still active in United Methodist Women and Home Extension, now named Home and Community Education. Over the years she received several blue ribbons for her beautiful quilts. Stanley had an antique tool collection, something they enjoyed together showing at various venues. Stanley owned many musical instruments and played for dances in Piatt County. Twilia was usually in attendance.
When questioned about living for 103 years, Twilia was amazed at the development in transportation. She had the privilege of seeing a Shuttle launched into the heaven’s at Cape Canaveral. When questioned about advice for living a long life, Twilia answered, “Just be happy every day.”