Cascade Park’s longest-running resident has another milestone to celebrate.

Lill Nicholas turned 100 last Wednesday, and she celebrated with a lunch and cake, surrounded by family and LINDSAY KEEFER - Lill Nicholas (right) turned 100 last week. She is pictured with Cascade Park Retirement Community's oldest resident, Mary Seely, who turns 101 this month.

Nicholas is the mother of three, grandmother of 10, 23 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren. One great-great-grandchild was named Lillian and was born just two days shy of Nicholas’ 99th birthday.

Lillie Luella Hillman was raised in Brownsville, where she graduated with a class of 12 in 1932. This was especially challenging since her mother had died at 16, leaving her to help care for her four younger siblings.

“We had no electricity and no telephone but we lived with it,” she said. “It was the Depression. You were by: LINDSAY KEEFER - Lill Nicholas (seated, left) posed for a family photo in Cascade Park's courtyard with members who visited her for lunch on her birthday, including (seated) her son William 'Nick' Nicholas, (standing, from left) daughter-in-law Dolores, great-granddaughter Maylin, grandsons Craig and Todd Nicholas, Todd's wife Dawn and daughter-in-law Kay Nicholas.lucky if you got $2 a day. My dad would take any job he could get.”

“She knows what hard work is, that’s for sure,” her son, William “Nick” Nicholas, said. “Both she and my dad were hard-working people.”

Nicholas met her future husband at country parties, which the rural neighbors would host occasionally. They married Nov. 25, 1935 in Vancouver, Wash., because crossing state lines meant they didn’t have to wait for the marriage license notice to be published in the paper first.

The couple lived in many spots in the Lebanon and Brownsville area, and their three children, Donna, Nick and Jim, were raised on a farm in Lebanon.

“Growing up, I loved living on a farm,” Nick Nicholas said. “As a kid, that was a great life. We had cattle, pigs, chickens. My mom was always home when we came home from school.”

After the kids grew up, the couple sold the farm and moved to Newport, where Nicholas’ husband died when he was only 60.

Despite being widowed fairly early, that didn’t keep Nicholas from slowing down. She continued to work odd jobs and to travel a lot, especially with girlfriends.

“We were living in Pennsylvania and one day she just showed up,” Jim’s wife, Dolores Nicholas, said. “She was taking a tour of the East Coast with a friend.”

Her other daughter-in-law, Kay Nicholas, said her mother was best friends with Lill Nicholas, and the two ladies were neighbors in Albany.

“They traveled a lot,” Kay Nicholas said. “We took them to Reno.”

As Nicholas got older, she thought she should live closer to her two sons, who lived in Hubbard and Keizer (Donna lives in Wyoming). So she found an apartment in Cascade Park Retirement Community in Woodburn. Seventeen years later, she’s still there.

“No one in my family lived past 88,” she said. “I wasn’t supposed to live past 88, but I was having so much fun I forgot to die.”

In addition to keeping active with the retirement community’s exercise classes, Nicholas is the caller at bingo.

“I’ll stay with it as long as no one complains,” she said. “I can’t hear worth a darn but I can talk loud.”

Apart from an occasional aspirin, she’s on no medication and here latest doctor’s visit five months ago (after a four year hiatus), produced a clean bill of health. Her advice for living a long and healthy life is to never slow down.

“Keep on kicking,” she said. “Anything you give up, you don’t get back.”

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