Marguerite Dempsey got in touch with her patriotic side during World War II when she did her part as a real-life American "Rosie the Riveter" icon while working on the aircraft assembly line at Convair in Fort Worth. 

Marguerite got in touch with her artistic side when she took up the hobby of painting at age 60.

Just 36 short years later, at 96, she got in touch with her biker side when she recently rode a motorcycle for the first time in her life.

A friend of hers named Dennis Sparks has a Harley-Davidson, so when a friend told him Marguerite wanted to ride a motorcycle, he came by and took her for a spin around her neighborhood.

"He told me, 'I'm not going to be going fast,'" said Marguerite, a pleasant, soft-spoken woman. "He was real careful. I just enjoyed it."

Everything went smoothly, including her climb onto the seat of the rather large motorcycle.

"I can do a lot of things most 96-year-olds can't do," she said. 

Wasn't it a little scary?

"Not to me," Marguerite replied. "I just thought it was kind of neat to get to ride it. I'm not getting any younger. If I'm still around when I'm 100, I'm going to ride it again.

"The last few years, I thought about doing things I never had done, and that was one of them. I want to keep moving as long as I can. I'm not going to slow down."

She said she fell and suffered a broken pelvis three or four years ago, but bounced back just fine.

Marguerite married George Dempsey and they were together 70 years, until he passed away nine years ago. They had five children – all boys.

She has lived in the same house on Lilly Avenue in Glen Rose for 44 years, where she still tends her garden. There, she also has a wide variety of yard decorations, including a red Radio Flyer wagon.

Sitting in the driveway is her 1995 Cadillac, which she uses to drive herself to the grocery store. She uses the little red wagon to get her groceries from the car to the front door when she gets home.

Marguerite enjoys oil painting, especially scenery and birds. She said she can't estimate how many paintings she has completed in the last 36 years, including some she has given to family members.

As for her secret to living a long life, she had no sure-fire answer.

"I give the good Lord credit," she said. "I've just lived a normal life. I haven't done anything special."

She then noted that for many years she has been taking a teaspoon of honey each night before bed.

"It's just a habit I've got, and I love honey," she said. "I don't remember why I even started."

Marguerite was born into a large family on March 11, 1920 at Brazos Point, a settlement in Bosque County. She's the oldest living member of the family of 13 children. Three sisters and two brothers are also still surviving. Her next-oldest sister, Doris, is 89 and lives in Cleburne.

The Great Depression began when she was nine years old, so her early life featured no frills or fancy possessions. 

"We lived on a farm," Marguerite said. "Of course, we all worked. I married when I was 17. It was hard times, but everybody worked.

"My older brother had a radio, but it was strictly his and we didn't get to listen to it unless he was gone. That's all the entertainment we had. We stayed outside and played all the time.

"We married when the Depression was just about over, but we had a rough time about the first two or three years."

Her husband was fortunate to find a job at a dairy, and later was hired to work in Fort Worth at Convair, which today is known as Lockheed Martin Corporation.

George served in the Army during the war, but wasn't sent into battle. In 1980, he retired after a 35-year career with Lockheed, then served for several years on the Glen Rose Fire Department.

Marguerite went to school to learn her trade and began working on the line at Convair in about 1943.

With 16 grandchildren, 35 great-grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, Marguerite has plenty of company when the holidays arrive. This year, the family is planning to meet in Glen Rose at the Community Center.

"I don't have room in the house," Marguerite quipped.

The sons are all nearby, with Larry living in Glen Rose, Ronald just a couple miles outside town, Gary in Godley, Jerry in Azle and Marlin in Walnut Springs.

With George's night-time work shift and the boys in school, Marguerite was usually left with the task of being the referee/disciplinarian for the boys.

"If they needed a whipping, I never did tell them to wait until their daddy got home," she said. "They knew they couldn't do much to momma and get by (with it). I know how to take care of babies because of me being one of the older ones in my family." 

Marguerite revealed a little secret about how protective she was in raising her children.

"We raised five boys, and we never would let any of them own (a motorcycle)," she said with a smile. "I was afraid of them getting hurt."