Mollie Eiman reaches 100Published 8:51am Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Amalie “Mollie” Behnke Eiman will celebrate her 100th birthday this Saturday, Aug. 22, with family and friends at Dowagiac Lions Club.
Born in Volhynia, Russia, on Aug. 18, 1909, to parents Julius Behnke and Teresa Janke Behnke, Mollie, the second oldest of nine, survives her four brothers and four sisters.
Mollie, her mother and her older sister, Lydia, came to the United States in 1911 to reunite with her father Julius in Dowagiac, the town in which she has spent most of her life and where she currently resides.
Mollie went to the McKinley School on 2nd Avenue and learned English.
From age 9 on, Mollie worked in the berry fields in the summers to help support her family.
At age 14, Mollie was employed at Cooper Wells stocking factory and a year or so later she went to work in a shirt factory in Benton Harbor until 1926.
In 1926, Mollie tied flies and wound bamboo rods at Heddon’s, the wooden fishing lure factory in Dowagiac where worked until after World War II.
Mollie married Melbourne “Bud” Eiman in 1931.
The couple had two daughters, one, born in 1932, Barbara Ann Luthringer of Dowagiac, and the second, born in 1934, Jerrie Lee Cook, of Palatine, Ill.
The Eimans lived in Kalamazoo from the mid-1950s to 1975.
After Bud passed away Mollie returned to Dowagiac.
Mollie has been a member of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church all of her life.
She has always been very dedicated to the church, which was founded by her family along with four other German families.
She has served as a member of Ladies Aid and committed her time to other church services and functions.
Every year, Mollie never misses sending birthday cards with one-dollar bills to her two daughters, eight grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and seven great-great grandchildren.
All of the grandchildren fondly recall Mollie singing German lullabies and baking delicious sour cream cookies.
Despite the occasion, Mollie requests no special birthday gifts, just like she’s requested no special birthday or Christmas gifts for the past few years (her family has yet to heed to her requests).
“I don’t need anything,” she says, “I’m just so happy everyone will be able to get together.”
Mollie, however, did recall a story from her youth about how her brothers and sisters would look forward to the Christmas treats they did receive.
“On Christmas Eve we would hurry to the park downtown, where they would give us a sack of candy and an orange, then after that we’d run to the church and get our candy from the church,” she said.
Like most families during those times, Mollie’s family had simple Christmas celebrations, based on religious traditions, but Mollie does remember having a Christmas tree in the corner decorated with real candles and handmade ornaments.
Mollie is looking forward to seeing all her family and friends for her birthday celebration.
When asked about what it feels like to turn 100, Mollie stated, “I’ve had a good life. I’ve been very blessed.”