A glint of excitement shines in Rio Rancho resident Edna McGuffin-Thompson’s eyes as she points to a painting of an old house with several structures surrounding it.
The house, she said, is where she and her 11 siblings grew up on the outskirts of Clovis, in the small town of Grady.
McGuffin-Thompson reminisced about her simple but happy life, explaining that she had milked her share of cows in her youth and pointing to the big red barn behind the quaint two-story home in the painting.
“I never thought I would ever be 100 years of age, but I didn’t think about it, it just happened,” she said, smiling.
When asked about some of the highlights of her life, McGuffin-Thompson reflected on her passion for teaching, a career that started when she was a student.
“When the teacher would leave the room, the kids in class would start acting up, so I went to the front of the class and said, ‘If you don’t straighten up, I’m writing your name down and giving it to the teacher,’” she said. “Immediately the kids calmed down.”
Soon, McGuffin-Thompson found herself mentoring third-graders when she was only in sixth grade.
“Teaching was something I always enjoyed and came naturally to me. I had 11 other siblings to contend with, so I learned quickly how to get my point across, I guess,” she said.
Later on in her 30-plus-year career as a teacher, McGuffin-Thompson said, she saw an ambulance go by her third-grade classroom window as she was teaching. A few minutes later, she was asked to take over as the principal of the school because the actual principal had fallen ill.
“There were other teachers that became jealous of me because I was offered the position over them, but I was asked because I wasn’t afraid to tell it like it is,” she said.
McGuffin-Thompson said she was also blessed to have the opportunity to marry twice in her life, first to Elmer McGuffin, who was a minister of music. She had two children with “Mac” and stayed by his side until he died in the early 2000s.
A few years later at the age of 84, McGuffin-Thompson married Ben Thompson, to whom she’s still married.
“I tell my friends that it is never too late to find love,” she said happily.
Other highlights of McGuffin-Thompson’s life have come in the form of line dancing, gardening and bowling.
“I’ve gone bowling with her a couple of times,” family friend Barbara Wiley said. “But she was so good she beat me every time.”
McGuffin-Thompson laughs as she points to a few magnets her husband displays with the numbers 400 and 500 on them.
“I didn’t practice at all; I just winged the ball down the lane close to the gutter and it would spin back in at the last minute and knock all the pins down,” McGuffin-Thompson explained.
But it wasn’t McGuffin-Thompson’s love of bowling that formed a bond between her and Wiley; it came from the solace of lost love.
“We had a seminar about dealing with grief,” Wiley said. “I had just lost my husband and I was taking it very hard, almost crying through the whole thing.”
Wiley said McGuffin-Thompson took extra time to console her and bring her comfort because she too had experienced the same feeling.
“I don’t know what I would’ve done without her during that time, because no matter how down I would get, she would find a way to reach me,” Wiley said.
Pastor Si Budagher of First Baptist Church in Rio Rancho said he got to know McGuffin-Thompson after seeing her attend church every Sunday.
“I found out that she was a pastor’s wife — and I immediately asked her how long it had been since she had taught a class,” he said.
Budagher said he found out quickly that she was already teaching at another church and had a passion for it that spanned many years.
“I immediately said, ‘Well, we are starting a new class,’ and she was interested and began teaching here in Rio Rancho right away,” he said.
On May 17, McGuffin-Thompson celebrated the milestone of turning 100 with friends and family as she reflected on the many things that have made her happy and healthy over the years.
“I always had faith,” McGuffin-Thompson said. “In one way or another, I went to church and didn’t put up with any nonsense as a teacher. I believe staying active has been the secret to a long, full life.”