Born in 1912 weighing just 2 pounds, Bessie Nissen Hawks has seen a lot in her 103 years.
On Saturday, Hawks' families and friends gathered at the Golden Living Center in Neligh to celebrate her birthday.
Hawks was one of seven children and born in Rosalie, Neb. She married Elis (Bud) Hawks, a 1929 graduate of Elgin High School. She taught for 28 years at Elgin Public Schools.
According to information from the school, Hawks moved with her family to a ranch west of Elgin at about age five.
She had a great desire to go to school, so she rode to town on horseback to attend Elgin High School. After her graduation, she began teaching at age 17 and continued her education. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Wayne State College in 1963.
Hawks taught seventh and eighth grades at Elgin Public Schools with at least one of her students in the finals of the Antelope County Spelling Bee for more than 17 years. For eight consecutive years, the county spelling bee champion came from her eighth-grade classes.
She has two daughters, Gloria Swanson and Darlene Heithoff. She also has 12 grandchildren, 34 great-grandchildren and seven great-great-grandchildren.