EAST TROY - Marion Ballard smiled as she looked down at a cake with her name written across the side and the number 100 resting on top.

Wearing a yellow corsage, she was the guest of honor at an open house at the East Troy Baptist Church Sunday for her 100th birthday, which is coming up on Nov. 20.

At least 120 family and friends gathered with Marion to celebrate the special occasion.

A video featuring the soon-to-be centenarian was shown upstairs, and downstairs people stopped by to congratulate her.

"I think she's a remarkable lady," said pastor Garry Zuber. "She has seen a lot of life."

Her granddaughter, Amy Kneller of Mt. Pisgah, could attest to that. She shared some snippets from Marion's long life.

She recalled how Marion's father delivered mail, by horse, in Columbia Cross Roads, where Marion grew up.

"She rode the train to go to school, from Columbia Cross Roads to Troy," she added.

And yet another one: "she remembers seeing the smoke when the school (on High Street) burned down in Troy, and being upset that her pencils and papers would be all lost in the fire."

"It's hard to imagine living to 100, it's so amazing," she said.

When asked what Marion's secret is to longevity, Kneller thought for a moment and replied that Marion was always a healthy eater.

"She said she always ate oatmeal every day."

Zuber, meanwhile, thought she displayed both strength and faith in God.

Marion said, "I keep busy."

She noted that she does crossword puzzles, knits and reads.

Lately, she said she has been reading "Medical Marvels."

Never mind that she just might be one herself.

And, impressively, she is the president of the Residents' Council at the Bradford County Manor, where she now resides.

Marion was proud that, in life, she was "first in a lot of things."

This included being at the top of the class at Troy High School and college, in the 1930's. She graduated from Mansfield State Teachers College, where she studied home economics. She taught for a year; had two daughters, Marilyn Packard and Linda Hulslander; and then substituted. She was married to Leon Ballard, who has passed away. She has five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Zuber noted that Marion was the first president of the Troy Hospital Auxiliary and the Friends of the Library.

She also was involved in the founding of the Home Arts at the Troy Fair, according to another granddaughter, Terri Packard. She thought her grandmother also enjoyed seeing all of her great-grandchildren.

And family and friends remembered how Marion was involved for more than 50 years in 4-H as a Leader.

A display focusing on her life also showed a picture of the Eiffel Tower. Marion went on a "People to People" tour in Europe in the 1970s.

The photographs in the display were arranged to form the number 100.

Some of those at that event also commented that Marion has been deeply involved with the church and the community for many years.

Marion's address for cards is Bradford County Manor, 15900 Route 6 Troy, Pa. 16947.

Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: reviewtroy@thedailyreview.com.