COLUMBUS — One of the first things Lavine Stancek will tell you about her life when you ask her is that she is glad her parents were able to ensure she was able to attend Columbus schools for eleven years—what constituted a complete secondary education when she was young.
Stancek may, in fact, be among the oldest living graduates of Columbus High School.
An Alleyton native and current resident of Columbus Oaks Healthcare Community, Stancek, who turned 100 on Monday, had an added benefit to going to school in Columbus: she learned to drive a Columbus school bus.
“We would let all the people out at Ramsey Road, and turn that big old bus around, and back out, and then I could drive it, because all the kids were out and it was safe,” Stancek recalled of the days when her father taught her how to drive using the school bus he drove.
“I learned to drive except on the days when my mom had something for me to do,” she said. “It was a little, bitty narrow road, and I could drive through that road. Those were the days,” she said.
Sometimes, she’d have to go home to help carry firewood or water to the family’s home, and wouldn’t be able to practice driving with her father.
“Sometimes I would have to pick up pieces of wood and chips and take them in for the morning, and we had a pump, and we’d have to pump water and get a couple of buckets of water and carry them in the house,” Stancek recalled.
After graduating high school Stancek went to work. For a while during the war years, the family lived away from Columbus as her husband, a welder, was working in shipyards along the Texas Gulf Coast.
Later, she returned to Columbus and went to work at Columbus Cafe, and later as office clerk for Dick’s Welding. She also worked at Mr. B’s and for a long time at a local grocery store.
She worked until she was in her 80s.
An avid deer hunter, her family members still have a mount of one of the bucks she shot.