Irene Kessler Wilkinson, a lifelong Cardinals fan, poses with Fredbird, who visited the Granite City resident for her 100th birthday.
GRANITE CITY — Most of us are busy focusing on what the future holds.
But for Granite City resident Irene Kessler Wilkinson, who turned 100 Dec. 24, there’s a lot on which to look back.
Born in Salem, Mo., Wilkinson lived on a farm with her grandparents. She attended school and played basketball during her high school years. While she enjoyed basketball when she was younger, she bowls in the time she has to herself now.
“I love bowling,” Wilkinson says. “I’ve been bowling in Granite City for 50 years.”
Wilkinson bowls every Monday and Wednesday night and does it for the pure enjoyment.
“I may not be the best, but I am the oldest,” she says. “I remember one time they announced my ending score was 179, which was the highest.
“I got a turkey.”
It wasn’t until she was 9 years old that Irene moved to the St. Louis area, where she stayed until the age of 14. In Missouri, she did housework for $4 per week.
“There wasn’t much work back then,” she says. “It was hard to find jobs.”
Before retiring at the age of 62, she worked at numerous places such as U.S. Steel in Granite City and as a school cafeteria cook for school.
By the age of 22, Irene was married to William, and the couple spent the next 50 years together until his passing. She spent another eight years with a second husband until his death. During her first marriage, Irene and her husband had three children, and now she has a total of 3 children and 54 grandchildren.
Now in her retirement, along with her passion for bowling, Irene is also an enormous fan of Cardinals baseball and takes pride in the fact Fredbird recently visited for her birthday. She also takes pride in the church she attends in Granite City, Calvary Baptist.
With 100 years under her belt, Wilkinson has story after story to share and says she looks forward to what the future will bring.