108-year-old Kansas woman on World War II, staying single

Published: May. 20, 2019 at 5:47 PM CDT
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At 108, a Kansas woman is the oldest member of the Prairie Band Potawatomie Nation, and one of the oldest people in the country.

Born in 1910, Julia Kabance remembers hearing the call to serve her country.

"There’s a war going on, and we're healthy and we're still young,” Kabance said. “We should get in there and help."

In 1942, Kabance enlisted in the Army at 33 – barely meeting the Army height and weight requirements of five-feet and a hundred pounds.

"I was five-feet and a half-inch,” Kabance laughed. “That was pretty close, wasn't it?"

Living in tight quarters with 150 other women, Kabance soon contracted the measles. Days after, a superior came into her quarters.

"She said, 'It's time to clean the house.' I said, 'You mean I have to get out of this sick bed and do housekeeping?' She said, 'You're in the Army now!'"

Kabance served stateside for 33 months performing clerical work as the war raged on overseas.

"I learned a lot. I learned how to deal with all kinds of people. Some of them were likeable, some of them you could hardly stand,” Kabance said with a smile. “My mother said, when I was in the service, 'Aren't you ever going to get married?'”

She never did.

"I never met the right one. I don't want to spend the rest of my life with someone I can't love,” she said. "I've seen it happen where a girl is afraid to be unmarried. Well, I wasn't afraid of that. I just said, ‘How could you live with a man the rest of your life if you didn't really love him?’”

Instead, Kabance found many ways to fill her time. She balanced volunteering with the Catholic Church and a career in civil service.

"I don't think I made a mistake because I’m glad I stayed single, because I had much joy in doing volunteer work," she said.

Her key to living a happy life, after a century-plus of experience?

“I think green food,” Kabance said. “Lot of green foods and beans."

She says she hopes to live to be 112. She turns 109 on August 10.