Magnificent Four still going strong

By Erin Mullins

Millie Armstrong of Frannie is a part of the “Magnificent Four,” four siblings in their 80s who have all lived to tell the tale.

Millie said her sister said it would be a good idea to put a story about that in the paper. Since she is the oldest at 88, she was elected to get the story going to the newspaper. Her sister EllaMae Ritchie is 86, her brother Lee Willis is 84 and her youngest sister Neva Cleland is 82. 

The four are from Deckerville, a small town in Michigan. 

“We lived in a little community probably like, well, wouldn’t be as big as Lovell. But it was kind of like family because everybody knew everybody. We just had a great childhood. At least we thought we did,” Millie said. 

Currently, only brother Lee remains in Michigan, living in Casco Township. Both of Millie’s sisters live in Florida. Neva lives in Silver Springs, and EllaMae lives in Ocala. 

Lee has never moved from Michigan; he has always liked it there. EllaMae moved to Florida before youngest sister Neva did. EllaMae and her husband moved there, repossessing trailers that weren’t paid for. After that, EllaMae was a dispatcher. 

Millie said she wanted to live in Wyoming her whole life, since she was a kid. She lived there until her kids got out of school. Once they were empty nesters, Armstrong told her husband, “We’re coming out here.”

Before they moved to Wyoming, the couple visited every summer for vacation. They moved out to Wyoming in 1980 and lived in the country. When her husband died, she moved to Frannie.  

Millie moved to Wyoming to be in the Bighorn Mountains. 

“Michigan to me is flat and has so many trees you can see nothing. That’s what I hear about people out here that go back there,” she said. “They say, ‘There’s too many trees. You can’t see nothing,’ you know. But out here we have the mountains, and that’s what I like. I like the mountains.”

Millie has adventured farther than just the Bighorns. She has been to the Rockies and mountains in British Columbia. She used to visit her grandparents’ ranch in Prince Albert, Canada. Before he passed, her husband was a big mountain fan, and they would go hiking together. 

Much of Millie’s spare time revolves around spending time with her friends or the mountains. 

“That’s my favorite, going out to the mountain,” she said. “Going on picnics up to the mountain. Camping all summer on the mountain.”

Meanwhile, Millie said her siblings are homebodies. They center their activities around their homes, like when her brother, Lee, dug a swimming pond in his Michigan backyard one summer. 

The last time that Millie got together with all her siblings was around five years ago. The siblings visit each other individually, but since they all live in different places it is hard to get together as a group. 

Millie can’t attribute any one thing to why she and her siblings are living active, healthy lives up into their 80s. 

“I just do what I want to do. And they do what they want to do. And we’re all still, you know, active,” she said. 

Millie said she and her sibling would like to reunite again as a group in the future, but she is not sure if it will happen. But even apart, that doesn’t stop the siblings from continuing to thrive as the “Magnificent Four.”