104-year old: 'Just keep trucking!'
Celebrating birthday number 104 was a bit tricky for Bernice McBride.
But with some help from generations of family members, the Cascade Park Retirement Community resident had a full day.
"Due to the Covid (isolation) we could not have family visit her, so we had them decorate their cars and do a parade in front of our building," said Kathleen Knupp, Cascade Park's recreational director. "All her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and some great-great's. She just loved it as they had posters hanging outside the vehicles."
McBride, a 24-year Woodburn resident, was born in Oslo, Minnesota, near the North Dakota border, in a family that included 11 brothers and sisters. She married in Portland at age 21. She raised her kids in Sheridan, and helped out her son, Darrell Mendenhall, at his insurance agency with bookkeeping, answering the phone, opening the mail and assorted other tasks right up through age 102.
McBride has been at Cascade Park for three years.
"After our father died, I moved her up here to Woodburn and she went to work in the office," Mendenhall said. "She answered the phone, did filing and opened the mail. She said it was good for her because it gave her a purpose, a reason to get up and get going in the mornings. She's not a fan of watching television."
Mendenhall said staying busy was his mother's trademark. As a child she walked to a one-room schoolhouse where all eight grades were taught in the same room. McBride tended to her lessons with focus and skipped a grade. She loved school and wanted to go to high school, so she hired out as a housekeeper and nanny so she could move and attend high school.
"She would come home from school and help with the cooking and the kids," Mendenhall said.
In 1936 McBride and one of her brothers traveled by car to Portland. The following year she married her husband, Donald, who drove his own log truck. She kept his books while raising the kids in Sheridan.
"Mother worked at a drug store in Sheridan," Mendenhall said. "As the logging went bad, they moved down to Springfield, Oregon. Dad hauled logs down there and mother did housework for people who needed it."
Mendenhall said the visitation restrictions due to the Covid-19 climate has been hard on McBride, but she receives calls frequently from family members.
"We're pretty lucky that she's 104 and still pretty strong," he said.
Following the birthday parade, folks at Cascade Park celebrated with cake and mingling.
"I was honored to do this for Bernice. It is very difficult to have social distancing with the pandemic going on," Knupp said. "We had her outside in the sunshine during the parade and she was waving to everyone. The grand, great-grand, and great-great-grandchildren were yelling out the window, 'Happy Birthday grandma!' It was quite a tearful moment."
Knupp said she asked the day's resident of honor what her secret to longevity is, and McBride replied: "Just keep trucking!"
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.