Pittsburg It’s been sort of a tradition for Charlott Engstrom of Pittsburg to drink a green beer on her birthday, which happens to fall on St. Patrick’s Day. For three of the last five years, she and her family have gathered at McCarthy’s to celebrate the occasion.
The only thing separating Engstrom and other St. Patrick’s Day revelers was her age. She turned 104 on Wednesday.
“We always do the green beer for her birthday,” said granddaughter Karin Barnett, Pittsburg. “One time we were driving around and she saw this and said, ’I’ve never been there. I’d like to go there sometime.”’
So Barnett and others planned a big surprise for Engstrom’s 100th birthday at McCarthy’s, with family from all around flying in to surprise her.
On Wednesday, the crowd was a little smaller for Engstrom.
Two of Engstrom’s great-grandchildren, Jordan Barnett and Leslie Harrison, both children of Barnett, came for the green beer tradition, as well as one of Engstrom’s other grandchildren, Carol Hadley.
Engstrom was born in 1906 in Cherokee, the oldest child and only girl, with four brothers. She married Virgil “Mac” Lampton, and after he died she married Dick Engstrom.
During her working days, she ran a high-end retail shop featuring the latest in women’s fashions. At one point, she worked in the retail shop of the Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, Wis. However, her working days are long behind her, as she retired in the early 1970s.
Barnett said her grandmother has “some Irish blood in her” and always had a plaque featuring the Irish blessing “May the Road Rise Up to Meet You.” One line of that blessing says, “May you see your children’s children.”
In that case, Engstrom has been very blessed, as she has seen her children’s children’s children’s children.
All told, Engstrom has had three children (two of which are now deceased), has seven grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren.
Barnett said Engstrom has remained active into her 104th year. Barnett said that when Engstrom was 98, Engstrom left one home because she “thought it was all old people. She was the oldest one there, though.”
Engstrom comes from a long line of longevity. Her grandmother lived to be 102. Her mother lived to be 97, and her aunt lived to be 107.
Engstrom’s family noted her “great sense of humor” and how she loves to have a good time. But they also noted how she tries to help.
“For Thanksgiving, she wanted to know if she could come over and help clean the house,” Barnett said. “She’s always asking if she can help baby-sit the boys if someone has something to do. We’d never take her up on it, of course.”
In honor of her, the family has furthered the tradition of green beer on Engstrom’s birthday. The green beer tradition was only skipped on her 101st birthday (bad weather) and 102nd birthday (illness).
“We are always trying to make a big deal of her birthday,” Barnett said. “She enjoys a party.”