Adventist Lifestyle “Poster Girl” Marge Jetton Dies at 106
A longtime Loma Linda resident, Marge Jetton, died on Tuesday, Feb. 15, at a board-and-care home in Loma Linda. She was 106 years of age.
The story of her life at age 101 circulated around the world in “The Secrets of Living Longer,” by Dan Buettner, in the November 2005 edition of National Geographic.
Buettner wrote, “It is Friday morning and Marge Jetton is barreling down the San Bernardino freeway in her mauve Cadillac Seville. She peers out of the windshield from behind dark sun shades, her head barely clearing the steering wheel. Marge, who turned 101 in September, is late for several volunteer commitments she has today, and she is driving fast, although this morning she has walked a mile, lifted weights, and eaten her oatmeal. ‘I don’t know why God gave me the privilege of living so long,’ she said, pointing to herself, ‘but look what He did!’”
When Buettner, a best-selling author and explorer, heard about Jetton’s death in February, he wrote, “Marge Jetton was the ‘poster girl’ of the longevity promise of the Adventist lifestyle. She ate a plant-based diet, observed the Sabbath, loved her husband despite the bumps in the road, and volunteered generously. As part of her reward, she lived 106 vital and happy years. She became an inspiration to over 40 million National Geographic readers around the world. I will miss her as an icon and as a friend.”
Jetton was born Sept. 29, 1904, in Yuba City, Calif. Her father was a mule skinner and her mother, a ranch cook and housekeeper. She remembered the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, when she was just a toddler. She recalled clearly the aftershocks that reached her family farm and sloshed water out of the animal trough.
She worked as a nurse, put her husband through medical school, and raised two children as a doctor’s wife. Her husband, James, whom she married in 1926, died two days before their 77th wedding anniversary.
Jetton graduated from a course in nursing at the St. Helena Sanitarium and Hospital in Napa Valley, Calif. She has worked as a nurse in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Loma Linda.
She and James, a 1934 Loma Linda University School of Medicine graduate, operated a clinic during the Depression years in Fallbrook, where they lived for many years while she served as his office nurse. The couple also served as relief medical missionaries in Adventist hospitals in Zambia and Ethiopia.
The Jettons had two children, Jane, living now in Yountville, Calif., and James Jr., living in Palos Verdes, Calif.; seven grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.