Humble attitude marks centenarian pioneer
In the 1930s, Margaret Morris Karsner, who just celebrated her 100th birthday, was one of the first women in the country to get a license to train thoroughbred horses.
But Karsner's daughter, Pegi Ivancevich, said her mother was not overtly strong willed: she was -- and remains -- every bit the Southern lady.
“She never asked to be a trainer,” said Ivancevich of her mother, who lives in a skilled nursing suite at the Village at Gleannloch Farms in Spring.
According to Ivancevich, it was the other trainers and owners who pushed for the precedent-setting move.
Although the family is from horse country in the Lexington, Ky., area, during the Depression, the thoroughbred racing circuit was not glamorous.
“Was it privileged? No.” said Ivancevich. “It was a way of life. They went where the horses were.”
Karsner traveled all over the country with her father as he trained thoroughbreds and, even though women weren’t allowed to train, she took over his duties when he passed away. Karsner was forced to split the profits with the men who worked for her.
But she was a tough force to be reckoned with, active in many organizations, including the Women’s Club, Daughters of the American Revolution and the local historical society. She was an elder in her church -- even though men predominately held those positions as well.
According to Ivancevich, when her mother moved to Texas in her later years, she was “seen as a sweet, mild-mannered, gracious lady.”
After her husband died, Karsner sold her farm and built another. When she could no longer live alone, she insisted on moving to Texas to make it easier for Ivancevich. When Ivancevich's husband became ill, her mother “was resolute” in her decision to move to an independent living facility to ease the burden.
Karsner graduated from Martha Washington Seminary in Washington, D.C., but “never talked about it,” said Ivancevich. “My mother lives in the present.”
Her current pleasures included a 100th birthday party April 1, at which a local politician proclaimed it “Margaret Morris Karsner Day.”
Margaret Morris Karsner
Community Connection: Centenarian who was one of the first women to officially break in to training thoroughbreds.
Fast Fact: Karsner is wild about the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team.
Ann C. Fisher is a freelance writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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