Sunnyvale to Celebrate the Fourth and a 100th

On Independence Day, a retired Lockheed Martin Corp. engineer, great grandmother and Scrabble player known for pummeling her opponents will celebrate her 100th birthday in Sunnyvale, a spokeswoman for the celebration said.

Maryhill Gleason will celebrate a century of life at 3 p.m. in Sunnyvale -- where she has lived since 1960 -- among about 90 people consisting of friends and family, event spokeswoman Jan Ford said.

Nineteen of Gleason's family members live in Santa Clara County, including her four great grandchildren.

One person coming to the party is traveling from England and others are traveling from the East Coast and from Oregon.

Among Gleason's achievements are her last eight years with Lockheed Martin in which she worked with Navy admirals to research and write Congressional proposals for the Polaris, Trident and Poseidon submarine programs.

Ford said Gleason was a matriarch to her own family and a wide range of others. Ford herself was a recipient of Gleason's love when she was working on an anti-drunk driving campaign in California and could not get home to family.

Ford was invited to holiday dinners and exchanged presents with Gleason's family.

People said, "If you stand too close to that family, you get sucked in," Ford said.

Gleason was born on July 4, 1916, in Forsythe, Georgia, along Interstate 75, south of Atlanta.

In 1943, she worked on Alaska's Canol Pipeline on an assignment from her employer Bechtel Corp., the largest construction and civil engineering firm in the United States.

In 1944, she traveled to the Panama Canal Zone as an American Red Cross volunteer to oversee the construction of a men's club at Fort Clayton. The club was built to help stop suicides among soldiers.

While working for Lockheed Martin, she was the first woman to train sailors on the operation of nuclear weapons on U.S. submarines. She retired from Lockheed Martin in 1981.

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