Helen Roth turns 100
Helen Roth will turn 100, Friday, March 11.

COLUMBUS - Helen (Hoppe) Roth was born the second oldest of seven children to Henry and Clara Hoppe of Richland on March 11, 1911.

At the time Richland was a bustling town supporting two grocery stores, a bar, a phone company, several churches, a bank and the Hoppe Hardware Store owned by Roth's father and uncle.

"When I was growing up, we had two farms and many hired hands," Roth said.

She said one of the farms was used for grazing the livestock, and the other was used to raise corn, alfalfa, hay and other crops.

Roth remembers walking across the farm fields to country school, which she attended through the eighth grade. Roth said she took the eighth grade exam and passed it when she was still in the sixth grade.

"I couldn't go to Schuyler that next year because I was too young and didn't have a way to get there," Roth said. "I was going to wait a year and then go with one of the hired hands' children the next year, but that didn't work out at that time."

Helen married Arthur Roth April 18, 1931 at the First Lutheran Church in Omaha.

"I don't remember his name, but that pastor went on to be in the movies," Roth said. The couple joined Federated Church in 1953 where Helen is still on the membership list.

After she married, Roth's husband helped her study and work toward her graduation.

"My husband was a very smart man," Roth said. "He taught me algebra, botany, physics, math and geometry, and then I took college prep courses with the American School in Chicago and graduated in three years."

Roth and her husband moved to Columbus after they married. Arthur served for many years as the assistant postmaster in Columbus.

"Arthur was in the National Guard but was not taken to go into the war because he worked at the post office, which was an important job during that time," Roth said. "When we moved to town, we bought a new home, and when times got bad we were told ‘no matter what you do, don't sell the house' - so we didn't and we were glad for that decision."

Arthur Roth died in October 2003.

Roth was well known in town for her volunteerism in the 1940s, '50s and '60s.

"I was in everything," She said. "During the war I helped the Red Cross and at the two hospitals we had in Columbus and the March of Dimes."

Roth also served as a scoutmaster to Girl Scout Troop No. 1. She said she always enjoyed working with the girls and later worked with the older Girl Scouts as well.

Roth said the Girl Scout troop was numbered one not because it was the first girl scout troop but because it was the best.

"Later I worked with the older girls, Virginia Curry was one of those, and as adults we played a lot of good golf together," Roth said.

Roth's work life included about six years working the races at the Platte County Agricultural Park soon after racing was established.

"The races started in 1940, and I remember taking the win tickets and standing on those dirt floors in the building where we did our work," she said. "We didn't have the concrete floors they have now."

Roth also was well-known in Columbus for her work at Irene's Dress Shop, a job she held for 17 years.

"I was the ‘so-called' manager at the Irene's Shop," she said. "I ran everything and did it all there. I even went to New York City to buy for the shop and to Chicago to buy some of the jewelry we sold."

Roth has cultivated several hobbies through the years including bowling, golf and bridge.

Roth is a tournament bridge player and holds a card declaring her to be a National Master of the American Contract Bridge League. Roth said she would still play bridge, but it's difficult to get enough players together at the Prairie Village Retirement Center where she lives in an independent living apartment.

She is an adamant Republican, having gained an interest in politics at early age.

"I remember as a girl, whenever anyone would visit us my dad would bring up politics," she said "We have always been Republicans.

"This last time I voted for Obama, and I'm not afraid to say it even though my husband would be appalled. I just could not vote for Bush after all the money he spent in those wars, but I'm afraid Obama doesn't know what he's doing, and I don't know what we're going to do about Libya."

In addition to her many hobbies, Roth and her husband traveled around the world by ship twice. She said she visited 49 foreign countries in the two ocean cruises she and her husband took.

Roth's advice for living a long healthy life is that people should spend more time thinking about the needs of others.

"My advice is to quit thinking about yourself and think of others," she said. "If you think of only yourself you become an introvert; if you think of others you become an extrovert and that's the way to live a good long life."



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