Utah’s oldest active voter celebrates her 107th birthday
PROVO, Utah (AP) — Provo resident MacCene Grimmett has cast a ballot every single election since she’s been old enough to vote — and that’s quite a few elections.
MacCene, who has lived in the same dark red-bricked house in northern Provo since 1953, recently celebrated her 107th birthday.
She was the oldest active voter in the state in November, when county elections officials came to her house and helped her cast her vote on an iPad.
“And I voted right there,” MacCene said, pointing to a russet reclining chair in her living room, which is filled with pictures, keepsakes and memories from past decades. “I’ve voted every year ever since I was old enough.”
MacCene’s political activity stems from both a passion for local politics and a love for humanity in general.
“I’m very interested in our politics,” she said, quickly adding, “I just like people. I’m very interested in people.”
But an impeccable voting record is hardly MacCene’s greatest accomplishment. The mother of five children — all daughters — has traveled around the country and to South America with President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and even received a special invitation to Nelson’s birthday last year.
In 1946, she was the first pianist to perform with the Chauntenette’s Women’s Chorus, despite never being formally trained as a musician.
“She was such a good piano player, which she learned early in her life from her great grandmother,” said Dixie Grimmett, her daughter.
One time, MacCene played piano to accompany a Brigham Young University music student who was performing live as part of her thesis. A man in the audience was impressed with her performance and asked if she needed a job, landing her a gig as a secretary for BYU’s Physical Plant Department.
Her secretarial work eventually caught the attention of school President Ernest L. Wilkinson, who asked MacCine Grimmett to be the university’s payroll director.
“She thoroughly enjoyed it because she just liked numbers and accounting,” Dixie Grimmett said. “And she was there 30 years being payroll director.”
MacCene was even around to see the university transition from bookkeeping by hand to digitized accounting.
“So she became the payroll director before they ever had computers and was there when they installed computers,” her daughter said. “And she helped build whatever the first program was.”
That’s not MacCene’s only connection to BYU. It was at the university she met her husband, Richard George Grimmett, while he was attending the school on a basketball scholarship; he passed away in 2003 at age 90.
MacCene, who never had enough money to attend BYU herself, would always help her husband with his homework.
“He wasn’t a very energetic student to study with,” Dixie Grimmett said about her dad.
“But he was a good basketball player,” her mother interjected.
MacCene has held a handful of other jobs throughout her long life. As a teenager, she worked with her mother in the kitchen of Hotel Roberts on University Avenue in Provo. She also worked for the United States Steel Corporation during World War II while her served as an engineer in the Army.
She worked in the Utah County Clerk/Auditor’s Office and as a proofreader for the Daily Herald, which her daughter said “she didn’t like very well.”
MacCene — a grandmother to 18, a great-grandmother to 26, and a great-great grandmother to four (with four more on the way) — has seen a lot of changes in Provo since she first moved to the city from Lewisville, Idaho, at 8 years old.
“Oh, it grew,” she said.