National Centenarian Awareness Project
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Founded in 1989 by Lynn Peters Adler, J.D.
Centenarian Expert and Older Adults Advocate

National Centenarian Awareness Project


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Garry Marshall On Marriage In
The 20th Century: In Search Of
The Happy Ending

Garry Marshall

Writer/director/producer Garry Marshall serves as an on-camera guide through an examination of history of marriage in the 20th century and its potential for a future in the 21st century.

The program aired on Showtime, June 14th and 30th. The program may be shown again. Please check your local listings.

The show includes a segment on our own, dear centenarian friend, Merle McEathron, who turned 104 in July.

Lynn and Merle
Lynn Adler with Merle McEathron,
101, in September of 1996.

Last July, as a result of a June 22nd front-page story in The New York Times that featured Lynn Peters Adler and nine of her centenarian friends from Arizona*, the National Centenarian Awareness Project received a call from a production company in search of the perfect centenarian story to illustrate the evolution of marriage over this century. Merle fit the bill perfectly.

Married at the age of 15, Merle was left with two young sons to raise alone when her husband left her for another woman. After her sons were through college, Merle moved from her home state of Indiana to Phoenix. There she met and

married her second husband when she was in her fifties. Widowed ten years later, she then had a whirlwind romance with a musician and married for the third time.

"After ten months, I packed his things and set them outside the door," she tells. Alone again and in her seventies, Merle returned to work as a hostess at a popular Phoenix restaurant. Undaunted she continued an active social life and at a senior dance met "the love her life," retired Admiral Ellsworth McEathron. After a year-long courtship at the age of 80, Merle married for the fourth time. "It was a real romance," she says. "We had ten beautiful years together." About her life, Merle sums it up this way: "I've had two lemons and two angels,"

A note from Lynn,
In October, 1998, we invited members of Merle's family to a gathering at my mother's home in Phoenix where we celebrated Merle's life and loves and toasted it all with champagne. This was the setting where the production crew interviewed Merle and her three generations of descendants of whom she is very proud. The day was a touching tribute to a woman who has know the best of times and the worst of times; who has maintained her spirit and dignity throughout it all.
Merle with Lynn, Lenore & Manella

Lynn Adler and her centenarian friends gathered together to celebrate life. Pictured is Merle McEathron (far right) with Lynn Adler (center), Lenore Schaeffer (next to Lynn) and Manella Stimson (far left).

*Read about The New York Times story.

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