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Margaret ‘Nana’ Horton turns 101: ‘I don’t even believe it myself’

Margaret Horton – better known as “Nana” – celebrated 101 years of life on Thursday, March 19. “I don’t even believe it myself,” laughed Nana. “The good Lord has just been good to me, every day of my life,” she said.

Her life has been good, but it hasn’t always been easy. When she was very young, her father abandoned the family and changed his name. Her mother remarried a man who owned a grocery store. They did well until the Depression. According to Nana’s daughter Nancy Wilkinson, back then everyone bought groceries on credit and paid their bill at the end of the month. When no one could pay, the grocery store went out of business and the family moved to Suffolk to be sharecroppers.

When Nana was in tenth grade, someone offered her a job and she took the first opportunity to strike out on her own. During World War II, she followed the exhortation of Rosie the Riveter and became a welder at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. She received a certificate from the United States Navy recognizing her wartime services.

Later, Nana worked as a long-distance telephone operator at what was then C&P Telephone Company (now Verizon). “She ran the switchboard [and] wore big transmission horns around her neck,” her daughter said. She tells the story of Nana getting frustrated and pulling out all the cords out and disconnecting everyone.

She was married for over fifty years until her husband’s passing. They raised three children together.

Nana currently lives in Kill Devil Hill with her daughter.

Pre-COVID, she would go to the Baum Senior Center several times a week and play cards with friends. Now she gathers with friends at home for card games

“She wins three-quarters of the time!” laughed friend Yvonne Blomberg. “She’s one of the loveliest ladies I have ever met. She’s kind, fun, and very bright. I feel blessed having known her,” she said.

“We all do,” added friend Joan Koskinas.

She’s active and healthy and tells her daughter, “I don’t need my cane! I’m just fine.”

“You’d never know she was 101,” Koskinas said.

Friends and family gathered for a luncheon at The Black Pelican restaurant in Kitty Hawk last Friday to celebrate Nana’s birthday, glowing with the love, appreciation and admiration they have for her.

“She means the world to me,” Wilkinson whispered through tears. “She’s just a joy.”

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