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Waterloo woman celebrates 100th birthday and shares life’s memories

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HUDSON, Iowa (KWWL) -- A Waterloo woman becomes a centenarian as she celebrates her 100th birthday at the Hudson Community Center, on Saturday.

Mary Freeland was surrounded by five generations of family, long-time friends, and loved ones who even flew out to spend the day with her.

Born in Conrad, Iowa on June 11, 1921, Freeland moved to Waterloo in the 1940s, and still lives in the same house today that she moved into back in 1949.

She raised six children in that house, and now has 20 grandchildren, 55 great-grandchildren, and 13 great-great-grandchildren.

Freeland was married to her husband Nick for almost 60 years, and he passed almost 20 years ago.

One of Freeland's first jobs in Waterloo was as a cook at an old restaurant called, "Big T's" for several years.

Freeland reminisced how she would walk to work everyday; that there were eight men who worked on the railroad and would come in every day for her burgers for lunch.

She enjoyed the people she got to work with, even talking about a memory of how one time her co-worker Nate played a prank on her.

"One time they hung a sign on my back when I went into the bathroom and it said, "Kiss Me," Freeland said. "So he came in and he saw that sign and he chased me all over in the kitchen, he was going to kiss me and I didn't know what was going on, and he took the sign off my back and said, "that's why."

During WWII, Freeland also volunteered for Chamberlains helping make shell casings for bombs.

"I help made soap bombs," Freeland said. "When the bombs came through, they put air in them and I had to put soap around it to see where they leak, if they leak. And they would go by me and they would repair them, ya know, so they didn't leak. I did that for two years."

Freeland said she walked a mile everyday to Chamberlains, and one day she fainted, only to learn she was pregnant.

Chamberlains was the last job she had as she would go on to raise her family.

At 100-years of age, Freeland's health is in such great condition that she still drives herself around in her 1995 Buick.

Her son joked that the last time she got her license renewed the DMV was certain she was wearing contacts, but her vision was and still is that sharp.

She is self-sufficient living at home with her cat, and she enjoys gardening her flowers and visiting with family and friends daily.

"I love people, and people are nice to me," Freeland said.

At her birthday party, everyone sang 'Happy Birthday' on the hour to Freeland, and after one round she joked, "I'm getting up there; I'll take a few more years."

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Dani Miskell

Weekend Anchor & Reporter

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