Mildred Reiter celebrated her 100th birthday Saturday, Feb. 9, amongst her large family at Victorian Place of Washington where she lives.
Reiter has outlived three husbands in that span of time and that’s one of the first things she would tell you.
The party consisted of at least 100 people according to her daughter, Carol Parmentier.
“I’m happy with how Saturday turned out,” she said.
Reiter grew up in Marthasville and attended St. Francis Borgia Grade School until eighth grade.
Back then they didn’t offer high school, but when they did it came at a cost.
Reiter said her parents couldn’t cover that cost so she picked up bowling.
She started bowling in her early teens and didn’t stop until she was well into her 70s.
Reiter bowled because her friends bowled. They eventually formed a team.
“We had a lot of fun,” Reiter said.
Her bowling score, 180 at one time, usually stayed in the 170 range.
“She was the one who taught me how to bowl,” Parmentier said.
Back then, the pins had to be set manually so the alleys had pin-setters.
Reiter said they had to be quick to get out of the way or “they’d get hit in the head with a pin!”
Fishing and Hunting
Reiter loved to fish.
“That’s what I miss most,” she said.
Reiter had her own boat and she pulled it behind her car.
The biggest fish she ever caught was a 20-pound blue catfish. She pulled it in right off the dock on Lake Breeze in Camdenton using a tight line.
She said she had to have someone help her reel it in.
Her son became an avid fisherman. Her daughter did not.
Carol bowled but wouldn’t fish or hunt.
“I’m the black sheep of the family,” Carol said.
Reiter also enjoyed hunting squirrels. Her sister started hunting with their dad first, then when Reiter turned 16 she began her hunting adventures.
She had her own gun, a .410. Then she owned a 20-gauge, which her son still has to this day.
“I would get more squirrels than my husband,” she said.
He would blame it on her red hair because most of the squirrels she hunted were fox squirrels, which have a reddish coat.
Reiter still sews a lot. She uses an embroidery machine to create shirts for the Victorian Place staff.
She also still quilts.
Since she can’t put together an entire quilt, she creates the quilt blocks and someone else stitches them together.
“That’s my pastime,” she said. “It’s what I do.”
She began sewing when she was 14. Her mother taught her how.
When asked how many quilts she’s created, Carol said she remembers one day going through several boxes that contained quilts and quilt blocks.
“I didn’t even know she had that many,” Carol said.
She makes quilt blocks for baby quilts now.
She sewed clothes for her children and used to sew for Mrs. Busch at the brewery.
“I don’t remember too many bought clothes,” Carol said.
Reiter began working at a shoe factory when she was 14.
Before she turned 16, a child labor law was passed and Reiter was told she couldn’t work until she turned 16.
The day she turned 16 Reiter said she picked up where she left off at the factory.
She worked there until the factory closed. They were going to name her supervisor, but instead announced the factory would be closing. This was in 1970.
During the same year her first husband passed away.
“I had a rough go of it,” she said.
Reiter enjoys hitting the casino for a night out every once in a while.
Every now and then her niece picks her up and takes her to Hollywood Casino.
“I never was lucky,” Reiter said adding the biggest win she’s ever had was $800.
“Of course they got it all back again,” she said of the casino. “I have a lot of fun anyway.”
They usually play for about two hours and then she’s ready to head home.
Reiter doesn’t play cards. She sticks to the slot machines.
“I don’t get any gambling help from my kids,” Reiter joked.
“It’s hard to ask them for anything else,” she said more seriously.
Reiter married August Bob Buhr, the father of her children, in 1937 two days before she turned 18.
“I was a young chick,” she said.
They stayed married until his death 37 years later.
She met her second husband through Carol.
Reiter married Carol’s father-in-law, George Parmentier, in 1971.
He died an unexpected death in 1973.
Reiter met her third husband, Nick Reiter, at a Catholic dance. Nick was the president of a dance club and asked her to join.
They met at the door and he led her to his table.
“We danced all night long,” she said. “He loved to dance and so did I.”
For three years the two dated going to dinner and dances together.
They eventually married in 1979.
Nick died in 1993.
“I’ve outlived three husbands,” she said.
Reiter bought a house in Washington 23 years ago.
When it was time for her to move to Victorian Place, her grandson bought the house from her.
“I was glad it stayed in the family,” she said.
With the move, she also had to sell her boat and car.
The 100-year-old has been living at Victorian Manor for three years now.