At 90, Hamilton is still hitting her stride

Toxie Hamilton said she always likes to wear red in photographs. She will be 90 this Halloween.

On Halloween morning, local residents may find Toxie Hamilton celebrating her 90th birthday while she's walking on the treadmill.

Since 2008, Hamilton has been walking two miles a day at Markoma Gym-Cherokee Nation Male Seminary recreation Center.

"I had never been on a treadmill; I had to learn," she said. "I was overweight, and I lost 25 pounds walking and eating right."

She said it takes her and her walking partner less than an hour each morning to put in the miles.

"Family and friends say I inspire them, but I respond that I don't see them at the gym," she joked.

Hamilton also stays active working in her yard and taking care of a perennial garden.

"Up until two years ago, I did all the yardwork myself. I still trim bushes and do some weedeating," she said.

Hamilton began school in Hulbert, but when her family moved to Eldon, she attended Willis and Lane schools. Two missionaries at Lane help pay for her to attend Bacone for high school, which she started in 1943. After four years of high school there, she stayed and studied home economics for two years at the junior college.

Although she would have liked to attend Northeastern, Hamilton - whose maiden name is Keys - married Bert in 1951.

"He belonged to a union and would get jobs in other states. I lived in five states in five years," said Hamilton. "We had a house trailer, which you'd call a motor home."

The Hamiltons lived in Tulsa for 25 years until Bert retired and they moved back to Tahlequah in December 1980. They were married for 53 years.

"This was home," she said. "We had a cabin on the river, which we used on weekends when we lived in Tulsa."

Hamilton has spent much of her time sewing and volunteering.

She has sewn many ribbon shirts, including some for Cherokee chiefs and tribal councilors. While some shirts originated from a pattern, Hamilton prefers when the men bring shirts that fit them and she can just add ribbons and details.

"I've met a lot of people through sewing," she said. "It's all word of mouth. It keeps me as busy as I want to be."

Currently, Hamilton is working on baby blankets to donate to a missionary at her church, Southside Baptist.

"They make missionary trips to Mexico once or twice a month. We donate whatever we can," she said. "They will take the blankets to a homeless shelter.

In 1977, Hamilton became a charter member of the W.W. Hastings Auxiliary.

She said she recruited friends and family members, and had over 20 uniformed volunteers ready when the "new" Hastings opened. She often worked at the diabetic clinic.

"I was an active volunteer for 20 years. I served as president several times," she said. "I thoroughly enjoyed my years volunteering with Hastings. They need more volunteers."

Bert was a U.S. Navy veteran, so Hamilton has been involved with the American Legion Auxiliary and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary No. 3707. She was also active in the Lady Elks, and was named Lady of the Year during that time.

The VFW Post on Choctaw will be the site of Hamilton's birthday party Saturday, Oct. 26, 1-4 p.m. All friends and family are invited.

"It's a come-and-go event; no gifts, just cards," said Hamilton.

One pastime for Hamilton is traveling. She has been to Arizona a few times to visit family.

"We used to go to Branson on spur of the moment," she said. "I'd take my two sisters, and they like to shop, and I like to see shows."

Tahlequah is growing all the time, according to Hamilton. One recent change she has liked is the widening of Fourth Street, which her street is off of.

She is amazed at all the Cherokee Nation has done over the years.

"I'm proud of all their work. I'm upset at Gov. Stitt wanting more money from the tribes," said Hamilton. "[Chuck] Hoskin Jr. is working on growing the language program, which is good. It was dying out."

Hamilton said senior citizen centers are "for old people," and she doesn't take part in Elder Care, although she thinks the Cherokee Nation does enough for senior citizens.

"I used to tease [former Principal Chief] Bill John [Baker] about making a retirement home for just Cherokees," said Hamilton.

Her advice to younger generations is to stay in school and get an education.

"And eat healthy. I didn't really start that until I started at the gym," said Hamilton.

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