Frances Kompus celebrated her 100th birthday last November 11, and helping her mark the occasion are her sisters Julia Kopriva and Lucy Pochop, who are 104 and 102, respectively.
Kompus held the celebration at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Atwood, Kansas. The location is special because it’s where they were baptized, confirmed, and, eventually, married.
Kompus was raised on a farm in Beardsley, Kansas, with her two older sisters, so she was never alone. She remembered having to run to keep up with them on the two-mile walk to school.
“I always did what they did,” she recalled. “Sometimes that was working and sometimes that was fun.”
Their grandparents moved from Czechoslovakia and became farmers in Rawlins County. All three girls would work the farm for their parents, with Kompus running the tractor for half a day at a time.
“What I remember well is my father didn’t have modern tractors. We took gas, gasoline out in the field in 5-gallon buckets,” Kopriva said.
“We’d cross the pasture, we would walk, and then on the way back, we would stop at the creek and catch frogs, put them in our pockets,” Kompus added.
Although work was hard, it allowed them to create good memories of their childhood.
“I had a few geese to play with and even had some roosters I made pets,” Kompus said.
They also ate good homemade food on the farm, butchering their own hogs. Even during hard times such as the Great Depression, their mother would cook chicken and serve them dried beans.
“Well, we didn’t ever eat fancy, but we ate good food,” Kompus said.
She said eating well is one of the reasons for her longevity, which is why she’s glad that the Good Samaritan Society home, where she moved into in December 2019, also provided good meals.
Other keys to her long life are being social and walking a lot. “Keep going,” she said.
As for Kopriva, she said: “I think faith comes first and thank your parents, grandparents.”
The trio, who all have children and are grandmothers, have always been close, but their bond grew stronger when each became widows. They moved into adjoining apartments in Atwood and enjoyed their retirement years together.
After Pochop moved into an apartment next to Kopriva in 2000, it was custom for them to play cards and dominoes every night of the week.
“That was their thing,” said Kompus’ daughter, Fran Allacher. “They just got together and they’ve been their support for each other, forever.”
The centenarians loved attending polka dances in their local Czech community during their younger days. Until recent years, they gathered to watch the Mollie B Polka Party show on RFD-TV on weekends.
Kopriva was glad to have her siblings around while growing up. Luckily, they always got along.
“I’m glad we had company. We got to play together,” she said. But as the oldest, she said, “I get to be boss.”
When they became mothers, they would call one another two or three times a day, according to Pochop’s daughter, Valyne Pochop.
“We always had family holiday celebrations with the aunts and uncles and cousins and, of course, Grandpa and Grandma when they were alive. They’ve always been very close,” she said.
The sisters were so tight that they were dubbed “The Three Musketeers.”
“They’ve always been involved in each other’s lives. That’s just pretty amazing,” Valyne said.
Also incredible is that none of them feel that old, said Kopriva.
More than their extraordinarily long lives, it’s heartwarming to see the close relationship these three sisters share with one another and their families! Watch their interview with KSN TV in the video below.
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Sunday 9th of January 2022
I'm v happy fo them. They love their lives and family involvement. I'm a loner and I enjoy my a v different life to theirs but no less. Polar opposite but I enjoy witnessing these large families and their stories. Thank you so much.