Friends and family gathered together Saturday afternoon to celebrate another year of life for a local woman who has now had a century worth of birthday memories.
On Saturday, June 23, Kathryn Clopton celebrated her 100th birthday among her loved ones. The celebration then moved to the Rockett Christian Church for an open-house birthday celebration from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
With a century under her belt, Clopton credited her longevity to her ability to stay busy.
“I keep busy by just moving around and not just sitting down and doing nothing,” Clopton said.
In fact, Clopton has found many different ways to keep busy throughout her life.
“She’s always gardened and had all these flowers to take care of, so that keeps her busy,” said Shirley Graves, one of Clopton’s nieces.
Along with gardening, Clopton and her husband worked on a farm and ran a hunting and fishing resort.
“They raised quail, pheasant, and chukar. They had 600 something acres out there – a big piece of property and a lake,” elaborated Jana Payne, another one of Clopton’s nieces. “They would take people hunting on their land and trained bird dogs.”
As Clopton and her husband ran the resort, Clopton grew accustomed to the outdoors, especially working on the farm.
“I love the outdoors. I worked in the yard and had a flower bed. I worked on the farm. I drove everything from a Model T up to a big truck,” Clopton said. “I’ve hauled cotton to the gin. I’ve done all kinds of farm work outside.”
Growing up, Clopton lived in cities all over Texas including Palmer, Corsicana, Lampasas, Waxahachie, and Rockett. She even lived in Oklahoma for a couple of years. When she moved back to Texas in the fifth grade, Clopton still enjoyed traveling as she would take the interurban — similar to a bullet train — to Dallas.
“We would catch it at Red Oak and ride the interurban into Dallas. Then, we’d shop and had to walk from Pacific Street through Main Street to get to the shopping center,” Clopton remembered.
One time, she even had to make the trip alone to buy a birthday present for her sister by request of her sister’s fiancé while he was deployed during World War II.
“He called me on Nell’s birthday and wanted to know if I could get her something, so I thought of some luggage that she needed,” Clopton explained. “I had to go by myself that day and had to walk from the interurban station to the shopping center, bought three pieces of luggage and had to carry it all the way back to the interurban by myself.”
She added, “I’ll never forget it because that largest suitcase looked just as big as I was.”
In addition to occasionally riding the interurban, Clopton also rode horses growing up.
“When we were living in Lampasas, my sister and I rode to school on horses. We had a pony that we all loved — her name was Lady,” Clopton said. “You could go under her or chase one another, and she wouldn’t move, but you’d get on her with books, and she wouldn’t move. You could not make her go to school.”
Upon Lady’s stubbornness, Clopton and her four siblings received a bigger Clydesdale named Tumbleweed.
“We had a small saddle to put on her to go to school, and we carried our lunch in a syrup bucket. We were going, and we had to cross a little branch over water and she jumped,” Clopton explained. “When she jumped, I fell off the back, and we couldn’t get me back on there because it was so big!”
As Clopton and her sister walked closer to the school, they could hear the children playing and assumed it was lunchtime. With this discovery, they ate their lunch because they didn’t want the school knowing they were tardy.
“We got there, and it was just recess instead of lunch. When lunch came, we didn’t have anything!” Clopton exclaimed.
She added, “Things like that were funny. I’ve had a happy life. I’ve worked hard, but it was worth everything.”
From gardening to farming, horseback riding to interurban riding, driving a car to running a resort, Clopton has lived a full life of experiences and stories. Not only is she a breath of excitement but also a loving soul to anyone who knows her.
Graves commented, “She does not look a hundred. She only quit driving a couple years ago.”
“She’s probably the happiest person I’ve ever known,” Payne admitted. “She always sees the best in people and is perpetually optimistic.”
She added, “She’s been like a mother to me and for multiple generations of my family. Everybody knows her by Aunt Kathryn.”