Oxford resident who has survived two pandemics turns 104 today

In a lifetime spanning two pandemics, Martha Engler will celebrate her 104th birthday today.

A resident of the Knolls of Oxford, she has been a fun-loving person, according to her daughter, Oxford resident Rosie Kilday. Engler was born March 31, 1917 in Oberrimsingen, Germany and her daughter said the fun-loving nature showed up early.

“She was a little dickens,” Kilday said.

Engler was among the German citizens who came to this country as Adolf Hitler’s power increased. In fact, Kilday said her mother arrived here in 1938 with a trunk of clothing but not all of it hers.

“My uncle was heard calling Hitler a bad name and he had to be smuggled out of the country. Mom put his clothes in the bottom of her trunk. She came here all by herself with Uncle Karl’s clothes. She sailed into the harbor on the Fourth of July to the fireworks,” Kilday said. “She did not know English. Dad was here and had family here. That helped her get a job and go to citizenship school. She worked for a family teaching the children German and doing housework.”

Family members owned several bakeries, and her father, Alfred, had one in Downtown Cincinnati before moving to Mount Airy. An uncle and another relative also owned bakeries.

All of her father’s family eventually moved to this country, and Kilday recalls fun family outings to the zoo and LeSourdsville with the entire extended family.

“Mom made sure we were doing the right thing at the right time,” she recalled.

She also remembers a family trip back to Germany when she was 10 years old.

“We visited family still there. I met my grandma and grandpa. It was very rural. We rode a hay wagon and helped take care of the vineyards,” she said of the trip which lasted four months. “As a child it was a neat adventure. I helped clean the pig sty with my bare feet.”

Her mother moved to the Knolls in 2008 in an apartment but now lives in the memory unit there.

“They take good care of her, even though we have not been able to visit her. She still loves to sing. Her favorite song is (a German song which translates to) ‘In Heaven There Is No Beer, That’s Why We Drink It Here,’” Kilday said.

That’s why last year for her mother’s 103rd birthday she sent a cake and a bottle of beer for her, although they could not share the cake due to quarantine rules but got to visit through a window.

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