OGDEN — Gaitha Butterfield has no intention of slowing down just because she’s turning 100 next week.
For the past six years, the Pleasant View woman has tutored students at Green Acres Elementary School, a task she treasures.
“I love to be with children. I love to be right in the middle of things,” she said. “We’re a lot the same because we’re all learning. They learn a lot from me, and I learn a lot from them.”
Butterfield, who volunteers through the Foster Grandparent program, helps students with their reading skills twice a week. During a recent session, five students in Nancy McKinnon’s second-grade class gathered around Butterfield in a circle and took turns reading, “The Night of the Stars.”
Butterfield, dressed in a black jacket, pants, boots and a cream-colored sweater, praised the children for their efforts.
“Very good,” she said. “Very good reading today. Thank you.”
McKinnon said the children love Butterfield, whom they call Grandma.
“They love having her come, and they all demand their time with her,” McKinnon said. “If we run out of time or she has to leave before they get to read to her, they are not happy. They also just love to talk to her and spend time around her.”
Volunteer coordinator Maryann Rackham said Butterfield has so much energy, she has spent more time at the school than Rackham has.
“She’s an amazing woman,” Rackham said. “She comes to the school twice a week for four and a half hours each day. She will even eat lunch with the kids. She has a cane, but most of the time she just carries it around and doesn’t use it.”
The students also like to size themselves up to the petite Butterfield, Rackham said.
“She’s less than 5 feet tall,” she said. “That’s about the size of many of our fourth-graders.”
Butterfield was born March 21, 1912, in Escalante, Utah. She said her first memories are from 1917 when World War I was raging. When she was 6 years old, the 1918 flu pandemic hit.
“I remember it was killing people everywhere, and I had to wear a mask,” she said. “It was a scary time.”
She quit school at 16 and got a job to help her family. In 1930, she married Henry Drew Butterfield; they had three sons. After retiring as a waitress, Butterfield tended children in her home and took care of her husband until he died. Today she has 14 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and 18 great-great-grandchildren.
On March 20, the school will hold a celebration in her honor. She will also be in the Utah Governor’s Century Club yearbook for 2012.
Butterfield said she’s honored and will continue to volunteer as long as she can.
“My health is good,” she said. “I get plenty of rest and I stay active. I think I want to live forever.”