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Published: Tuesday, 9/18/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Ex-nurse looks back on lively century

BY GABRIELLE RUSSON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Ida Burks of Perrysburg will be 100 on Sept. 28. Her caregivers hope for a presidential letter and recognition from the 'Today Show.' Ida Burks of Perrysburg will be 100 on Sept. 28. Her caregivers hope for a presidential letter and recognition from the 'Today Show.'
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The dates and the places aren't that clear.

But after so many years, do those details really matter much?

Ida Burks, speaking in a soft voice, still gets excited as she relives her memories, even when the specifics blend together. She talks of going to Libbey High School when she was one of only a few African-American students there, of traveling across the world to China and Africa in the 1980s, of working as a nurse at what is now called Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center until she retired in 1975.

The charm bracelet on her left wrist jingles as she pounds her hand on the table during her storytelling.

Mrs. Burks, a Perrysburg resident, will mark her 100th birthday on Sept. 28.

PHOTO GALLERY: Perrysburg woman to mark 100th birthday

The day will be celebrated by a party and a visit to Toledo Grace Presbyterian Church where she is a member. Her caregivers are hoping to receive a letter signed by President Obama and an announcement on The Today Show.

"We want the President and we want The Today Show," said Megan VanDyke, the quality of life coordinator at Otterbein Skilled Nursing & Rehab Neighborhood in Perrysburg, the facility where Mrs. Burks lives.

Mrs. Burks has kept scrapbooks full of newspaper clippings and old photographs -- the historical collection of her life.

There's the photo of her as a baby, dressed in a long white christening gown. It's the first photo that she likes to show a stranger whom she meets for the first time. "You should see all the hair I had," she said, smiling.

When she was 1, her family moved from Chicago to Toledo where she lived most of her life. She graduated from Libbey in 1931.

In one scrapbook is a 1956 document from the state of Ohio -- her certification as a nurse. She studied at the former Northwestern Ohio Practical Nurse Training Center. Mrs. Burks said she adored children but never had any of her own. So she spent her life taking care of others -- her patients and her own mother who later became ill.

Another part of her collection is a brochure from the West Philadelphia Youth Civic League, a group that tried to improve the lives of residents in that part of the city. Mrs. Burks, who had lived in Philadelphia, was an honorary board member for the league.

The documents are mingled with photos, such as a young Mrs. Burks posing with the other nurses in their uniforms or Mrs. Burks in an old-fashioned swim suit -- all part of a collection from a woman nearly a century old.



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