• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Local man hits century mark

MARION STRATTON celebrated his 100th birthday with six generations of family members on Sunday, two days before the actual anniversary. Asked how many candles he'd be blowing out, his daughter Mary Jane said three - a "one" and two "zero's," explaining that she didn't want to make it too hard on him. (Photo by Amanda Westerfield)

A few days before his 100th birthday, Marion Stratton relaxed at his Scotts Ferry Road home with two children and one great-great grandchild. Asked how he felt, Stratton replied, "I feel alright. I just can't walk so good. My running gear's gone." Then he chuckled. As he approached the century mark, Stratton, like most of the few people his age, is hard of hearing and sometimes his words are difficult for a stranger to decipher. He gets around with the help of a walker or a cane, and the firm hands of loved ones - but he does get around, and doesn't hesitate to walk outside to show off the muzzleloaders he's been making and selling for 40 years. "I've got one on the rack now," he said. Down a ramp and several steps is a workshop where he still crafts the vintage guns by hand, and on the walls are some of the target sheets peppered by his own bullseyes. On this day, Stratton was joined by two of his adult children, Mary Jane and Marion, and his 13-year-old great-great-grandchild, Jacob Kincaid. On a sunny early afternoon four days before his birthday, Stratton, with the help of his children, told his tale. He moved to Woodford County from Franklin County at the age of three - by horse and buggy. Growing up, he played plenty of baseball, usually pitching, often against other area teams from places like Mortonsville and Tyrone. Some of the games were played near the place he's called home since 1937, where cars now roll past on the Blue Grass Parkway. In written notes, Mary Jane said that when he was growing up, her father would often see smoke from moonshine stills in the hills around him. His best friend, Ray Quisenberry, lived nearby on a dead-end road near the river, and Quisenberry, who lives in Florida now but visited Woodford County recently, will celebrate his 100th birthday in November. "And they're still very best friends, Mary Jane said. "But the highlight of his life was when he met and married Mary Frances Soard, raised eight children and (they were) blessed to be together for 72 years," she wrote. At the age of 65, Stratton retired from his job as foreman with the Eubank and Steele Lumber Company in Lexington - which gave him, among other things, more time to build muzzleloaders. Stratton recalled one competition in which seven of the shooters were using his muzzleloaders. "His guns are all over the country," said Mary Jane, adding that her father held his own in shooting and tomahawk-throwing competitions. In his workshop, he proudly displayed his favorite tomahawk. "I sold one to a guy in Chicago. He stuck it up in his truck and took off with it," Stratton said, before his son, Marion, added, with a laugh, "That was my son." Four days short of hitting the century mark, Stratton politely answered the sort of questions someone his age is often posed by strangers. Did you imagine when you were growing up that you'd be 100 one day? "No, who would?" What's a typical day like? "Daylight to dark." Do you have any advice for young people? "Well, I can't say something about somebody else's life." How many grandchildren do you have? "I quit counting," he said with a smile. On Sunday, two days before he turned 100, Marion Stratton was joined at M.C.'s Parties and Events on Macey Avenue by six generations of family. After dinner, they ate jam cake, strawberry cake, blackberry cake, and Stratton's favorite, banana cake. With family, food and good health, Marion Stratton didn't seem to need anything else. A few days before, asked if there was a particular present he wanted, Stratton shook his head, smiled and said, "I'm pretty well satisfied."

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