Travel

Centenarian Continues Tradition of Traveling Cross Country to Visit Family – The Oakland Press

When Mary Grabeel traveled from Arizona on the Detroit metro to Marco Island, Florida last month, the airline’s check-in system couldn’t correctly identify her age, so the 107-year-old flew as a seven-year-old unaccompanied minor.

That minor hiccup wouldn’t stop the spirited high school student from making a solo trip across the country, said Waterford resident Renée Grabeel, Mary’s sister-in-law. “Mary has flown dozens of times, too many to count,” Renee said. “She has been traveling all her life. In her younger years she traveled the world, but in her later years she flies to see her family.”

Mary, who had lived in Michigan all her life, moved to Peoria, Arizona. 14 years ago to be close to one of her daughters. This photo was taken in celebration of her 105th birthday. (Photo courtesy of Rene Grabeel)

Mary, who had lived in Michigan all her life, moved to Peoria, Arizona. 14 years ago to be close to one of her daughters. She has other children, including another daughter and two sons. Her son Tom is married to Rene. In May, Mary flew from Arizona to Detroit to stay with Tom and Rene and then flew to Florida to visit her other son, Jim, and her other daughter, Patty. Her family meets her at the airport and other family members meet her when she arrives. Mary also has three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

While in Michigan last month, Mary spent a week visiting Tom and Rene, as well as old friends, some of whom she met at First Presbyterian Church in Pontiac, of which she has been a member for 70 years. She also visited friends she met while working at the nonprofits Big Pontiac Musical Tuesday and Oakland City Hall.

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