103 year old Northwest Iowa woman shares passion for piano - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

103 year old Northwest Iowa woman shares passion for piano; staying active


1909 is the year explorers discovered both the North and South Poles, Lincoln Head pennies were first minted and the Wright brothers tested their first U.S. Army plane.

It was also the same year Emma Lucas was born. 103 years later, she's still going strong.

Most of us enjoy spending our birthday with friends.

"We just had to come wish you a Happy Birthday," said a neighbor.

The same is true for Emma Lucas of Larchwood, Iowa. On this day, she's celebrating her 103rd.

"Hi Emma! Happy Birthday," said another friend from the community who stopped by to visit.

She's witnessed a lot of history in a century plus three. That includes two World Wars.

"I remember when my dad had to answer a questionnaire to go to the war, World War One," said Emma Lucas.

Three of her own sons went to war, two in Korea and one in Vietnam.

"There's so much to remember and there's so much that I can forget," she said.

Emma is one of eleven kids in the Schettler family, raised on a farm near Larchwood. Emma and her husband Ted DeSmet raised seven kids of their own. She has 39 grandchildren, 87 great-grandchildren and 37 great-great-grandchildren.

"I can't believe it when I think about it myself," said Emma.

One thing's for certain, her zest for life is unmatchable. She was quite the bowler, even making the paper at age 81 when she bowled a 265. It was part of her first 600 series. A few years later however, she hurt her shoulder.

"They told me I was too old to have surgery, so I just had to work it until I could use my own again. I never could bowl with it again, but I bowled four years with my left hand," she laughed.

Her other passion is the piano.

Emma's music has been heard by many over the years. In fact, she played for more than 40 years at St. Mary's Parish in Larchwood, Iowa. She retired at age 99. But they recorded her music so when you come to this church on occasion you can still hear Emma playing.

"Sometimes it's during the whole mass, but not always," she said. Emma has been in church when her recordings have been played. "It's kind of a weird feeling," she said.

Emma still plays occasionally at a nearby nursing home.

Dean DeSmet said, "20 years ago we'd say she'd go to the nursing home in Sioux Falls and play for the old people. And now she's 100 and she's still doing it."

She's also been keeping her fingers busy, crocheting and donating hundreds of hats and mittens to charity. The week before she brought more than 200 to the Banquet in Sioux Falls.

While you may think the secret to her longevity is her active lifestyle, Emma thinks differently. She says it's moderation and

her attitude about life.

"To find the best in everybody," said Emma.

A life lesson for all of us, based on years of experience.

Emma's husband Ted passed away in 1972. Her second husband Lawrence Lucas died in 1983.

According the U-S Census Bureau Emma is one of about 800 Iowans that are 100 years or older. The oldest living Iowan is 115.

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