By Alicia Doyle

The Writer
Specializing in Good News
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Photo by Alicia Doyle/Ventura County Star

Simi Valley woman celebrates 103rd birthday

March 3, 2014 Ventura County Star

At 103 years old, outliving two doctors and one dentist and driving until age 100, Maudie Rench said she was unsure why she has lived so long.

“I guess God intended me to live this long,” said Rench, of Simi Valley, who celebrated her birthday Feb. 19 with a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting topped with three candles: 1, 0, 3.

Jokingly, she added that her brother, Lewie, attributed her longevity to orneriness.

“Lewie would say that I was living so long because I’m a mean old lady, so I ... guess I’ll just keep on being mean.”

Born one of nine children in Proebstel, Wash., she and her family arrived in Oregon in a covered wagon after crossing the Columbia River in a ferry, said her niece, Peggy Miller, of Simi Valley.

“Her mom died when she was in her teens, and her father abandoned the family,” Miller said. “She and her siblings were split up and sent to foster homes.”

At age 17, Maudie Miller met her husband, a union rep named Henry Rench, while working at a canning factory in the San Francisco Bay Area for 18 cents an hour.

“She stuffed newspapers in her shoes to keep warm,” said her nephew, Randy Miller, of Simi Valley, adding that his aunt worked at the cannery for about four decades and that the two never had children.

He attributed her longevity to hard work.

“Also, she loves to drink a glass of red wine a night,” Randy Miller said. “And she loves to eat, especially fruits, vegetables and Chinese food.”

Although her hearing has waned and she relies on a walker, Rench takes only one pill for blood pressure and does not wear glasses, Peggy Miller said.

“At 98, the DMV gave her a four-year extension when she passed the vision test without glasses,” Peggy Miller said. “The only reason she stopped driving was because she was so short she couldn’t see over the steering wheel.”

Two months ago, Rench went into the hospital for breathing problems and flat-lined twice.

“Everyone came in to say goodbye to her,” Randy Miller said. “She woke up and said to Peggy, ‘What are you doing here?’ ”

Her great-nephew, Kirk Miller, said he loves listening to her stories.

“She met her husband when she was 17 and was with him until the day he died. That is so rare ... to spend your entire life with one person,” said Kirk Miller, of San Diego. “Aunt Maudie has always been an inspiration to me. ... She is one of the toughest people I know.”

Rench, who lives at an assisted-living home, said her proudest accomplishment was fostering a good marriage until her husband’s death in the mid-1980s.

Looking back on her life, she offered the following advice: “If you don’t like the way things are ... do something about it.”

“Also, take care of those who cannot take care of themselves, whether it be family, friends or neighbors,” Rench said. “Take care of your pets and treat them nice. They will love you until the day they die.”

She added: “The bottom line is ... getting old is not for sissies.”

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