Diaries through the Decades: Marion Albert aims to help others

Maybe it's because her father died when she was three and she had to watch her mother service various households to sustain the family, or maybe it was having six kids. Maybe it's just her nature, and maybe it doesn't matter.

The fact is, 90-year-old Marion Albert is strong. Albert grew up on Logan Hill Road in Scottsberg, N.Y., a small town about 15 miles southeast of Geneseo. She remembers the one-room schoolhouse where she spent the first eight years of her education. "We had to walk [to school] … we didn't have school buses, and nobody had cars to take you in the snow," she said. She remembers one spot where she had to climb a drift that reached the tops of the telephone poles.

A voracious learner, Albert worked her way through classes, went on to high school and graduated. At 19 she joined her first husband, Robert, in marriage. They had a farm together. "That was seven days a week and you couldn't depend on hired help," Albert said. "That's when I got into doing a lot of things on the farm I shouldn't have."

Albert fed the cows, hauled the milk, cultivated the crops and tossed the hay. "Then I decided I had enough, and I moved to Dansville," she said. Separated from her husband, she was pregnant and already caring for five children.

"I was just lucky to get into Sonyea," she said. Sonyea's Craig Colony was a medical center for the treatment and study of epilepsy where Albert worked as a nurse's aide for 20 years, doing nearly everything that needed to be done. In that way, she provided for her children.

Her retirement from the Craig Colony did not bring respite. Albert's oldest son died of cancer and shortly after his death, she too was diagnosed with the disease. She was in her 60s at the time. "I was very fortunate to survive," she said. "That was a long haul."

In spite of the hardships, Albert says she has been blessed throughout her life. Her surviving children are successful and she has 15 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandsons. "We had trials and tribulations along the way, but they all turned out well," she said.

Albert's love for children wasn't confined to her own family. For 20 years, she was active with the Foster Grandparent Program of Dansville Primary School. She first utilized her medical skills in the school nurse's office, and later worked one-on-one with children, giving them a hand with their lessons.

Albert said that she thinks things were more exciting when she was growing up than they are today. She said that the winters seem longer now. Albert has survived most of her older relatives, she has been alone and she has escaped death to see her children excel and bring up families of their own. She has helped a new generation begin learning. Most of all, Marion Albert has endured.