She lives by the mantra, “Love what you do and do it well.” And at 91-years-old, Ginger Thomas still does a lot really well.
There isn’t much this grandma can’t tackle. She lives on a few acres in rural Fort Scott, Kansas and still feeds her cattle every evening at 4:30 sharp. She gardens, weeds around the house and keeps a routine schedule of social outings and standing engagements with family and friends.
But 16 years ago, severe blockage in her arteries threatened her life.
It was back then when Ginger began to notice during the routine walk down the lane to her mailbox, she became winded and would need to stop to catch her breath. Fortunately she told her kids about her difficulty.
She was scheduled for a stress test at Mercy Hospital Fort Scott and from the results, she was referred to Mercy Hospital Joplin for exploratory heart surgery. Once Ginger’s heart was examined, it was determined several areas were blocked and she needed triple bypass surgery.
“It was a blessing that a surgeon was available to perform the bypass right away,” said Floyd Howser, Ginger’s son.
The thought of heart problems never crossed Ginger’s mind.
“I’ve always been the active type,” Ginger explained. “Since I was a kid, I’ve enjoyed spending time outside. When our children were young, we spent lots of time boating, camping, fishing and hunting in California where we lived at that time.”
Ginger might even be considered an Annie Oakley of sorts; small in stature, but good skill with a gun.
“For years and years, I would prepare for our hunting trips with target practice. I must admit, I was a pretty good shot, but never pulled the trigger at an animal. I just couldn’t find the heart to do it.”
Ginger’s previous activity most likely aided her quick recovery from heart surgery. She was able to snap right back into the things she loved. But a couple other setbacks came about six years ago. She struggled with a terrible case of pneumonia and a shoulder injury. As if rebounding from one setback wasn’t enough, Ginger overcame both.
It was following her physical therapy for her shoulder injury that Ginger became a regular at Mercy Health for Life fitness center, taking part in twice a week Arthritics in Action exercise class. She is the eldest active fitness center member.
And this lady uses her heart in more ways than physically. As a philanthropist, she recently endowed the Calvin and Ginger Thomas Agriculture Scholarship at Fort Scott Community College.
“We’ve had a good life,” Ginger added. “I know I’m 91, but I claim I’m only 19.”