Lee Grace is LO's newest centenarian
Moderation and good luck.
That is what Lee Grace says is the cause of his long and healthy life. Grace celebrated his 100th birthday Aug. 5 with two parties. The first was held Saturday, Aug. 3 at Pete's Mountain Winery in West Linn, where about 40 relatives and friends gathered to celebrate.
"There were 11 cousins and their spouses," said son Mark Grace. "They came from Thailand and all over the U.S."
Mark Grace and his wife, his sister Betsy Henningsen and other family members gathered at The Stafford Boutique Retirement Community on Lee Grace's actually birthday to celebrate with other residents of The Stafford with cake and balloons. Lee Grace's granddaughters say the centenarian just "keeps moving." He taught the girls to ski when he was in his 80s, and was an early adopter of jogging, taking daily two-mile runs for as long as they can remember. He also took them on hikes near his Wyoming home to discover animals and the wonders of nature.
The Stafford, where Lee lives, surprised him by having a watercolor portrait of him commissioned, which will hang in the retirement community.
"We like to honor our residents, so we have a portrait painted in celebration of their 100th birthday," said Rita Segura, admissions director at The Stafford. She said another resident will turn 100 in September.
Grace was born Aug. 5, 1919 in Webster Grove, Mo. He earned a degree in English literature from Dartmouth College, and enlisted in the U.S. Navy upon his graduation in 1941. He served as a pilot and flight instructor, primarily flying Hellcat fighters, often off aircraft carriers stationed in the Atlantic.
His life has included a series of adventures and interesting careers, including working for American Express in Austria and Italy, working on a cattle ranch in New Mexico, and with Gulf Oil in Denver, where he secured leases on mineral rights throughout the region.
He left Gulf Oil in the mid-1950s to start an independent career in the oil business in the boom town of Casper, Wyoming. According to daughter Betsy Henningsen, so many young men flocked to Casper during that period that Life Magazine wrote a feature article about the eligible bachelors, including Grace. His bachelor days ended when he met his wife, Barbara, on a ski weekend in Aspen, Colorado. The couple were married for nearly 52 years.
"Wyoming was home and very good to me," Grace said.
He moved to The Stafford in 2015.
Grace counts himself lucky to reach the milestone birthday, but admitted he was a little tired from all the festivities. He was hoping he could take a nap after the party.
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