Wall, Texas resident, Mary Lou Hand, celebrated a special birthday on January 15, 2022.
She turned 100-years-young. Hand has six children,13 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.
Born in the hills of Pennsylvania, Mary Lou Hand was always ahead of the game.
“I graduated Aleppo High School when I was 16,” Hand said.
Even though she had her diploma…there wasn’t much she could do until she was 18…except,
“Kill time,” Hand said.
But that’s not Mary Lou’s style. Just one year later she was off to nursing school.
“So, I lied about my age and told them I was 18,” Hand said.
Once again, on the fast track, she graduated nursing school in three years.
“Which I was 20 but they thought I was 21. And I took state boards when I was 20…I passed,” Hand said.
“So, you always wanted to be a nurse?” we asked.
“No. I wanted to be a schoolteacher, but my dad thought I needed discipline, so they sent me to nursing school,” Hand said.
But it was nursing that opened many doors for Mary Lou.
“I worked in Pittsburg a while and joined the Navy, but they didn’t want me because I had a calcified spot on my left lung…it’s okay. So I came home did private duty awhile and joined the Army and of course, they took me” Hand said.
After joining, she was stationed in Maryland, Mississippi then went overseas to England where she met her husband, Bob.
“But not my patient, I met him at the officer’s club I was having a Toddy,” Hand said.
Speaking of her patients though; “The patients I cared for were mostly ambulatory but when they got their Purple Hearts I secretly cried,” Hand said.
Despite those visible wounds that Mary Lou treated, she always tried to remain positive and spread laughter, which helped “her guys” deal with the invisible wounds as well.
“Yeah, I loved them, but they were never fresh, they never stepped out of line…and here I was, Miss America,” Hand said.
They loved her right back.
But her true love was Bob. The two married had six children, and a life full of adventure.
“I’ve lived in three countries and seven states,” Hand said.
But Mary Lou says her favorite places to live were Midland and Fort Stockton because they had so much fun there. But no matter the location, Mary Lou continued to work in healthcare, mostly supervising hospitals. She worked until she was 75-years-old.
When it comes to lessons learned and life advice, she shares this message.
“Be honest and have good morals. I think morals have been shot lately. Be honest and love people. I love people. Just love people really,” Hand said.
Advice to consider, after all…faith, morals, and love have gotten her this far.
“Yeah, I’m celebrating my 29th Birthday,” Hand said.
Mary Lou also has a brother who lived to be 100, a sister who lived to be 103, and her 102-year-old sister, who is also a veteran, is still living.
Mary Lou credits her genes and having fun as the secret to life.
You can watch the full, unedited video of Mary Lou’s interview here.