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97-year-old celebrates birthday by going down a water slide

Friends call Margaret Jones an inspiration as she continues to show up for weekly swimming classes at her local YMCA.
Posted at 2:20 PM, Dec 29, 2023

Margaret Jones recently celebrated her 97th birthday in a grand way — by going down the water slide at the Mills County YMCA in Glenwood, Iowa. 

Jones is a retired school teacher who grew up in Sioux City, Iowa, taught in Arizona, and moved back to Iowa about 15 years ago.

Her classmates at the Y were an important part of her birthday celebration last month.

“Oh, it means a lot, it means a lot. I couldn't do it without them. They’re like family," Jones said. 

Jones, born the same year as Queen Elizabeth II, celebrated her birthday with a class tradition: going down the slide.

“Well, it keeps me going for one thing. And these people here are wonderful people. They’re like family to me. They take care of me," she said. "They go turn on my shower for me. They say I'm an example, you know, to look forward to, for when they get old. They’re all young, you know."

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Jones is a regular attendee of the Splash and Gab gathering every Monday at the Y.

“My career at the Y, I've seen people come in with walkers and, after about maybe six months, they don’t have that walker anymore," said Mills County YMCA Executive Director Diana Burchett. "I’ve seen people come in with a severe case of loneliness and depression, and it turns them all the way around."

Friends say Margaret is an inspiration and a part of a sisterhood.

This article was originally published by Katrina Markel for Scripps News Omaha.