Enoch grand marshal turns 100 on 4th of July

Roberta Tingey is the grand marshal in the Enoch 4th of July parade, Cedar City, Utah, July 4, 2017 | Photo by Tracie Sullivan, St. George News / Cedar City News

ENOCH CITY – It is 1917 – fry cook Walter Anderson invents the first hamburger bun; a Boeing aircraft flies for the first time on June 15; the average price of a home only costs $5,000; and in a rural county located in the far northwest corner of Utah, Roberta Ward is born on Independence Day.

It is 2017 – Donald Trump is inaugurated the 45th president of the United States of America; Apple becomes the first company to be worth more than $800 million; the Tomb of Jesus reopens after restoration in Jerusalem; and in a rural county located in Southern Utah, Roberta Ward-Tingey was honored on her 100-year-old birthday as the grand marshal of the Enoch City 4th of July parade.

An entire century has passed since Tingey was born in Box Elder County to John and Marian Ward. Born during World War I, she writes in her biography that she “came into the world a firecracker.”

“I thought I was a joy to my mother from the day I was born,” Tingey said. “I was her last child and the only one of five with dark hair.”

Tingey was named after her mother’s brother, Robert E. Dalton, who was serving in France during the war when his niece was born. Dalton gave Tingey $100 as his namesake, which she said she “saved and added to” all her life.

Raised on a farm, Tingey grew up working alongside the Italian prisoners of war who were sent out to the west during World War II to work the farms. She wrote about some of her memories in her biography.

“The one thing that stands out in my mind is how the workers would all sit around the table and talk for hours,” Tingey wrote. “It seemed to be when everyone would talk of different things that had happened to them and others.”

Tingey also helped her father on the farm planting various types of melons, peaches and gooseberries he would harvest and ship out to other areas to provide a financial means for his family.

“It was my job to be at the bottom where the gooseberries came after the leaves were blown away by the fan above,” Tingey said. “I’d fill big boxes with them, pull them out of the way and place another box to be filled. This went on for six weeks.”

Tingey and her father would then take the boxed fruit to the train depot to ship out. On one of these trips, Tingey met her then-future husband Max, who worked at the depot loading freight and cargo on the trains.

The couple tied the knot in 1940 when Tingey was 23. Three days after their wedding, however, Tingey’s husband was called to serve his country in World War II.

The couple now have bragging rights to a family tree of five generations beginning with their three sons – Ward, John and Bob – and spanning out to 25 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren.

They were married for 43 years before Max passed away in 1983.

In the last 10 decades, Tingey watched the movie industry progress from silent pictures to computer-generated imagery, the first man walk on the moon, and the first African-American be elected U.S. president – a notion that was not conceivable even as far back as 50 years ago.

She has witnessed a cultural transformation encompassing the civil rights movement, the feminist uprising and changes in entertainment that took America from wholesome family shows like the Andy Griffith Show to the Kardashians. Tingey calls the world today “wild.” But with the conviction and wisdom of a 100-year-old woman, she says she knows, “it will all be alright.”

The last century has also brought a technological revolution evident in Tingey’s biography where she writes about her mother washing clothes.

“I remember mother put the big boiler over the hot coals on the coal stove, fill the boiler with water and let it get really hot,” Tingey said “Then she would carry the hot water in buckets to the washing machine, then do the washing by hand. She had a large tub, which she filled with water for the rinsing.”

At 100 years old, Tingey is still in great physical shape, taking no medications and exercising and dancing whenever she gets a chance. Her favorite music and TV show is Lawrence Welk and her favorite pastime is playing bingo at the Iron County Senior Citizen Center.

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Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @tracie_sullivan

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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