virginia malouf

Virginia Malouf, a former first lady of Hastings and the Tehama Shrine, celebrated her first day as a centenarian in Hastings on Sunday.

Malouf was born as Virginia Eck in Moberly, Missouri, on Nov. 3, 1919. Her father worked as an engineer for the Missouri Pacific railroads, and Malouf found herself doing secretarial work in Los Angeles for one of the railroads there.

While in Los Angeles, Malouf met Monte Malouf, who was working fo Mode O’Day, a women’s clothing company in California. Monte served in the U.S. Navy for three years during World War II before returning to Mode O’Day.

After returning from the Navy, Monte’s career began to take off and Mode O’Day was looking to expand, said the couple’s son, Monte Malouf Jr. of Hastings.

“When Mode O’Day said they were going to build a manufacturing plant in Hastings, Nebraska, my mother and father packed up everything they owned in a little car,” the younger Malouf said. “They stopped in Las Vegas and got married in one of those little chapels, and then they drove non-stop out to Hastings, Nebraska.”

Virginia and the elder Malouf were married Nov. 9, 1946.

The elder Malouf took the position as plant manager of Mode O’Day, which was west of Duncan Field on South Street. Virginia also worked at the plant. The younger Malouf said once Mode O’Day got a foothold in the area, Virginia helped to open the retail store, which used to be on Second Street.

“Mother was extremely versatile. She could do anything in the office, but she could also go out into the plant and fill in with just about any position, with the exception of sewing,” the younger Malouf said.

One of Virginia’s most valuable skills was knowing shorthand, as she would help draft letters for the elder Malouf during his time as a Fourth Ward City Councilman from 1957-61, as mayor from 1972-76, and on the Adams County Board of Supervisors from 1984-96. (He was elected county board chairman in 1986).

“As Dad was mayor, there was a lot of communication that needed to be done, so Mother’s shorthand came in handy when Dad had to compose a letter,” the younger Malouf said.

In addition to serving as first lady of Hastings, Virginia was first lady of the Tehama Shrine when the elder Malouf was potentate in 1967. The younger Malouf recalled visiting San Francisco and Washington, D.C., with his family during the Shrine Imperial sessions.

“My mother accompanied my father absolutely everywhere,” the younger Malouf said.

The younger Malouf said Virginia is doing well physically for someone who is 100 years old, but has difficulty remembering some things. The younger Malouf helps take care of his mother, along with several other caretakers.

“They took care of me when I could not take care of myself, and now it’s time for me to return the favor, because they raised me right,” he said.

The elder Malouf passed away April 10, 2008.

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