Marion Shills celebrates 100 years of ‘living life to the fullest’

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From left are grand niece Lynn Fogle, 100-year-old Marion Shills and niece Audrey Willard.

GALLOWAY – Growing up in Atlantic City, she was a neighbor of Enoch “Nucky” Johnson, her parents owned the first grocery store in town and her brother retired from the police department holding badge number 1.

Marion Shills turned 100 Monday, Sept. 24 at Seashore Gardens Living Center.

Trenton State College – now College of New Jersey – was old when she went there, Shills told The Current before a party in her honor at the center.

“It was very old,” she said. “The grounds weren’t cultivated. I’ve been told that today it’s just beautiful.”

She said she returned to Atlantic City and did some substitute teaching.

“Jobs in Atlantic City were scarce,” Shills said. “And I wanted to stay in Atlantic City. I did subbing. Kids go crazy with substitutes.”

Her main career was managing Abel’s, a jewelry shop on the boardwalk near the Marlboro Hotel which became Resorts International. She also worked at Irene’s variety store on the boardwalk.

“My father had a small department store and then a large market in Atlantic City,” Shills said. “It had fruits and vegetables and a butcher shop. It was called Shill’s Market – between California and Texas avenues on Arctic.”

Shills said she walked over there a while ago.

“It’s still there,” she said.

She said that despite her attraction to Atlantic City, she’s enjoyed traveling.

“I went to Paris – loved it,” Shills said. “I speak French a little. I took it in high school. I also went to a little place in Italy on a day trip.”

According to her niece Audry Williard and grand niece Lynn Fogle, Shills speaks French, Hebrew and Yiddish in addition to her native English.

Two of her three brothers were on the Atlantic City police force: Ptl. Morris Shills who wore badge 1 and Edward Shills in the Accident Bureau. A third brother, Sam, played saxophone and drums in local bands.

She also had two sisters, Bessie Shills and Rose Wesler.

The youngest of six, she is the last surviving member of her generation in the family that used to live in a large house on S. Annapolis Avenue.

“Until she gave up her house, she was on the beach every day,” her great-niece told The Current. “She did what she wanted to do and lived her life to the fullest.”

Shills said she was a good swimmer – “not championship caliber, but a good swimmer.”

Fogle described the S. Annapolis Avenue home as a mansion – a fact disputed by her great-aunt.

“It was a big house with three bedrooms on the second floor and three bedrooms on the third floor,” Shills said. “But it wasn’t a mansion, but it was a beautiful big house.”

Fogle said the kids always thought the third floor was haunted.

“Haunted – of course not,” Shills said. “That’s ridiculous; that’s crazy.”

She said she credits two things for her longevity: her eating habits, and remaining single.

“I could have married, but I didn’t,” Shills said. “I didn’t miss it. And I’m a very fussy eater.”

She didn’t elaborate on her diet.

She told a reporter when the interview was finished.

“And then she lived to be 100,” Shills said. “And that’s enough.”

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