TIPP CITY — Former Piqua resident Lucille Sansam has been on the go her whole life — all 104 years of it.
Sansam, whose maiden name is Walker, was born on Jan. 14, 1916, in Darke County and was raised on a farm outside of Fletcher until she married.
“I don’t feel that old,” she said. “I don’t think about my age — I simply don’t think about it.”
Longevity runs in her family with her cousin Louise Cromes, of Piqua, also turning 104 a few weeks ago.
“I get around and do what I need to do,” she said.
Sansam said she’s fortunate to have lived well over a century and witness events such as the Great Depression, World War II, Kennedy assassination and Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon.
“I’m pretty fortunate,” she said.
Sansam resides in her own apartment at the Randall Residence assisted living center in Tipp City. She stays active and participates in exercise classes, outings such as lunches and dinners and attends church. She walks unassisted to various activities throughout the day at the center.
“That’s what I’ve been doing my whole life — go, go, go,” she said. “I can do about anything I want to do. I enjoy getting out for a walk, but not for 2 to 3 miles at a time or anything.”
Lucille says she looks forward to church on Sundays because “when you go to church, you feel better.”
Sansam can still clearly recall working on her father’s farm outside of Fletcher, quitting school in the eighth grade to help with the farm work. The oldest of seven children, she recalls plowing farm ground with horses and the welcomed day when her father Clarence purchased a tractor. Of all the farm chores, Sansam recalled splitting tobacco was her least favorable task.
“I never had anything handed to me,” Sansam said.
Sansom shared the story of growing up with little “extras” such as toys, but the few toys her family had were shared and coveted.
“We had a little wagon and all seven of us played with it,” she said. “We didn’t have much, but we had plenty to eat, but not a lot of everything else.”
Her youngest brother Clarence “Buck” Walker still resides in Piqua and the rest of her siblings have passed on. Sansam was particularly close to her sister Frances, who lived to be 101, before she passed in 2017. The pair moved to Florida with their spouses for about 35 years before moving back to Ohio in 2013 to be closer to family. During their retirement, the pair cleaned houses “for something to do” until Lucille hung up the dust rag at 93.
“We were like twins, we were close in age, and my, I miss her,” Sansam shared.
Perseverance has been a common theme in Lucille’s life. Her mother passed away when Lucille was around 13 years old, leaving her to care for her six siblings, the youngest at the time was 2 years old, until her father remarried. She fondly remembers spending time at her grandmother’s home and how she would make her dresses for school.
“She kept me all the time — they were good to me,” she shared.
Lucille’s daughter Shirley Norris, of Arcanum, shared how her mother eloped at age 19 in Union City to John Lloyd Supinger. With Supinger, Sansam had three children, including Norris and Rick Supinger of Tipp City. She lost their first son, John Raymond Supinger, approximately 10 months after he was born, when he suffered a ruptured appendix.
In 1949, Lucille’s first husband John Supinger passed away due after being electrocuted in a work accident and she can clearly recall watching Supinger’s brother walk up to their home in Piqua to deliver the bad news.
Sansam then took a job working in the plant making yarn at Orr Felt Company.
“I worked there probably 30 years,” Sansam said. “I enjoyed it, working there.” Sansame said working “never hurt me and made me healthier.”
Sansam married her second husband, Paul Sansam, in 1956.
Her son Rick said his mother’s key to longevity has always been hard work and to keep moving.
“She’s always been active and never liked to sit around much,” he said.
Lucille chimed in, “I hate to sit.”
“She had breast cancer when she was 95,” Norris said. In talking with doctors during that time in Sansam’s life, Norris said that her mother was going to live to well past a century. When Sansam’s doctor was skeptical, Norris shot back, “You don’t know my mother.”
Sansam had the tumor removed, and went home the day after the operation. “I walked out of there,” she said, recalling that she refused to be taken out of the hospital in a wheelchair. Since then, Sansam has not had any problems.
“I’ve been fortunate,” Sansam said simply.
Sansam is the grandmother to three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.