A legacy of love, compassion and service

‘Take care of your body, mind and spirit’, Yukon centenarian advises

Nancy Williams of the volunteer organization Centenarians of Oklahoma presents Thelma Thompson with an “Goldie Okie” pin. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Associate Editor

A Yukon woman has been inducted as the 2,902th member of a very special group.

Thelma Thompson is Yukon’s newest centenarian, having recently surpassed her 100th birthday. Her longevity and resilience have left an indelible mark and enriched the lives of countless individuals.

A celebration was Oct. 3 inside The Pavilion at Spanish Cove Retirement Village.

Thompson has lived more than 25 years at Spanish Cove, Yukon’s premier senior life-care community.

Her words of wisdom to others:

“Take care of your body, mind and spirit.”

Mayor Shelli Selby read a proclamation declaring Oct. 3, 2023 as “Thelma Thompson Day” in the city of Yukon. She was born Thelma Eileene Shaber on Oct. 3, 1923 in Wetumka, Hughes County.

During her lifetime, the Yukon centenarian has witnessed an extraordinary timeline of historical events – including five wars, the invention of television, the landing of a man on the moon, and the birth and growth of equal rights for women and men of all races.

Thelma Thompson is “now deserving and qualified to celebrate a rare and remarkable milestone and enjoy the title of Yukon’s Best Centennial Citizen,” Mayor Selby said.

The official City of Yukon proclamation describes Thelma Thompson’s “generosity, wisdom and unyielding spirit” along with her “enduring legacy of love, compassion and community service.”

Family members attending the 100th birthday party were son Rex Thompson, daughter Eileene Rhodes, daughter-in-law Sally Nickel, granddaughter Dr. Robyn Thompson-Goggs, and great-grandchildren Noah Goggs (17), Daisy Goggs (12) and Julia Goggs (10).

Thelma Thompson received a certificate and gifts – including a “Golden Okie” pin – from the volunteer organization Centenarians of Oklahoma, represented by Nancy Williams.

Yukon’s 100th birthday girl became the 2,902th Oklahoman honored by the group since it began in 1991.

Yukon centenarian Thelma Thompson celebrates her milestone with family members during her 100th birthday party. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)


Williams shared more details about the Centenarians of Oklahoma’s new Hall of Fame inductee.

Thelma Thompson was a registered nurse before retiring in 1988. She spent 44 years with husband Rex, her high school sweetheart.

Thelma has three children, eight grandchildren and 22 great-great grandchildren. Her other son is the late Bob Thompson, Yukon’s former assistant police chief.

Thelma was a docent at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame (now Western Heritage Museum) for nine years, an usher at Lyric Theater for seven years and enjoys big band music.

“Christmas is her favorite holiday because the family was always together at her house on the farm in Tuttle,” Williams said. “She made a stocking for every member of the family, and they hung across the mantel at Christmas.”

Her hobbies are crafting, oil and watercolor painting, quilting, knitting, crocheting, playing bridge and board games, singing in a choir, and traveling.

“She stays busy and completes two jigsaw puzzles a week,” Williams added.

And Thelma’s most-loved food? Chocolate ice cream.

Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby presents a proclamation declaring Oct. 3 as “Thelma Thompson Day” in the city of Yukon. Thompson celebrated her 100th birthday with family at Spanish Cove Retirement Village. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)


  • More than 80% of centenarians are women – like Yukon’s Thelma Thompson. And 38% live alone or with family.
  • The last U.S. Census report shows there are about 450 centenarians in Oklahoma. The oldest-known person in Oklahoma is Guymon’s Lois Boston, born in May 1913.
  • In Oklahoma, there are six centenarians who head up six-generation families.
  • The U.S. has about 98,000 centenarians. There were about 2,300 centenarians in 1950 and 53,364 in 2010.