PAOLA — Agnes Scherman had a twinkle in her eye as family, friends and staff formed a crescent shape in front of the table where she was seated and sang happy birthday to her Jan. 10 at North Point in Paola.
A large birthday cake on the table was covered in pink icing and had the inscribed message, “Happy 105th Birthday Agnes!”
Lillian Tallio, who will turn 98 on Jan. 26, leaned in her seat next to Agnes and put an arm around her big sister.
Deb Tallio, Lillian’s daughter, said Aunt Ashie — as she is known to Deb and her two sisters Jan Lowery and Toni Warren — has lived a clean life, worked hard and believes in doing everything in moderation.
Lillian credited Agnes with looking out for her and helping raise her until Lillian reached high school and developed a little bit of a lively streak.
“She said, ‘I’m letting you go. I can’t control you anymore,’” Lillian said, laughing as she recalled those teenage years.
Agnes was born Jan. 12, 1915, in Wea and has lived in the area her whole life. She graduated from Paola High School in 1933.
Agnes met Harold Scherman in grade school. They began dating in high school and were married in 1941. Agnes and Harold lived on a farm in rural Paola, where they grew row crops and raised livestock.
Jan said her aunt and uncle built a lovely house on their farm in the early 1960s. The home was very modern for the time and was featured in a popular farming magazine.
“I think it was one of the first homes in the area that was all-electric,” Jan said.
Agnes and Harold did not have children, but Lillian’s daughters Jan, Deb and Toni were frequent overnight visitors.
Jan and Deb said Aunt Ashie was a wonderful cook and prepared large meals for the extra farmhands during harvest. Her specialty was making pies.
Agnes said she didn’t have a favorite pie.
“I liked making all (kinds of) pies,” Agnes said with a smile.
Jan and Deb said Agnes was an avid seamstress. She made her own suits, dresses and casual clothes, and made beautiful dresses and coats for Jan.
Besides working on the farm, where she also loved growing vegetables in her garden, Agnes worked as a secretary at Knecht Equipment for 12 years.
Her nieces said Aunt Ashie is a devout Christian who loves the Lord.
“She and Lillian were volunteers at the Food Kitchen in Kansas City with other members of her church (Holy Trinity) for many years,” Jan wrote in an email.
Agnes and Harold enjoyed traveling, going to movies, playing cards and had a record collection with a wide range of music.
Some popular 1950s tunes were playing in the background as people started to gather in a large room for Agnes’ 105th birthday celebration. But the favorite refrain on this rainy afternoon drifted down the hall, “Happy birthday, dear Agnes; happy birthday to you.”