WWII veteran turns 111 at Good Samaritan Society

Julia Kabance is the oldest living member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation

Two mature women smile with pink balloons and a happy birthday banner behind them. The woman in the center is 111, and her friend sits next to her.

More than two years ago, Julia Kabance reluctantly made the move to a skilled-care center at Good Samaritan Society – Wamego in Kansas. At the time, the 108-year-old, dealing with a leg wound, wasn’t sure about her new home.

“Stay two years and see how you like it,” Kabance says she was thinking back then.

After many months of not having to cook or clean, she’s sold on her new surroundings.

“It’s kind of nice to have somebody wait on you,” Kabance says. “I look forward to the good meals here.”

Society staff look forward to catching her in the halls.

“I think she’s pretty entertaining. I like spending time with her. She always makes me laugh,” administrator Angela Barber says.

Now at the spry age of 111, Kabance still gets around on her feet with the use of a walker.

“If you don’t use it, you lose it,” Kabance says.

‘Strong-willed woman’

A local celebrity, Kabance is the oldest living member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. She’s also the oldest living veteran in the state of Kansas. Sanford Health News wrote an extensive profile on her history in 2019. That year, her goal was making it to the age of 112.

“She’s strong. Strong-willed woman,” Barber says.

During World War II, Kabance served in the U.S. Army in the Women’s Army Corps. After that, her love of God led her to volunteer frequently at the VA in Topeka following an accounting career.

The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t slowing Kabance down.

“She’s full of energy. She likes to tell stories. Not everyone knows where they’re going but everyone loves to listen to her,” Barber says.

On top of reading and playing cards, Kabance likes to get out when she can.

“I like to exercise but I don’t walk as much as I used to,” Kabance says.

Grateful for caring nurses

A recent fall made her grateful for the caring nurses just down the hall.

“I lost my balance,” Kabance says about the incident a few months back.

She bumped her head but is recovering nicely. When she hit her alert button following the fall, staff came to her aid in a matter of moments.

If she would have been at her previous house, Barber says, “who knows how long she would have been there.”

Glad she’s healing well, Barber says the nursing home will be honoring Kabance this Native American Day on Oct. 11. She and her neighbors at the location are treasured members of the community in Wamego.

“I love the residents. They make me smile every day,” Barber says.

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Posted In Senior Services, Veterans

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