"More than two hundred people came to Long Beach Grange hall Sunday afternoon to honor William Kroll on his hundredth birthday."

A few days before that milestone in 1953, a reporter from the Longview Daily News interviewed Mr. and Mrs. Kroll.

"The centenarian has followed a wide variety of trades through the years and came to America from Russia with Mrs. Kroll when he was 58 years old. That's when the years of hard work really started.

"Kroll was born in Germany in the same year Franklin Pierce became president of the United States. This was nine years before the beginning of the Civil War and a year earlier than Commodore Peary's historic visit to Japan. His parents moved to Russia when he was a young man. There Kroll mastered several languages and shouldered a 14-pound broadaxe to hew keels of large sailing ships.

"Strong ties with friends from 'the old country' pulled Kroll across the Atlantic ocean for 'a new life' and eventually across the American continent to Southwest Washington.

"The Krolls arrived in New York City in 1894. Government officials tried to keep him there as an interpreter because of his fluency of languages. But they traveled on to a small Michigan community to join their countrymen. Before long, many of these new Americans struck out for the West.

"The Krolls followed and established a homestead near the slopes of Mt. St. Helens. This was in 1903. The government bought this land and the couple established a new home in the Castle Rock area. There Kroll cruised timber, logged and hacked bridges and logging railroads from the wilderness of Silver Lake. 'I guess I've done just about everything.'

"In 1910, the Krolls moved to Long Beach where he operated a 32-acre farm and later large tracts of cranberry marshes. Today they live in a small, neat shake home on Peninsula Road here.

"They were married 56 years ago in Russia after Kroll's first wife died. Each marriage has produced eight children and 10 are still living. Mrs. Kroll is 76 years old. All of the children are in the United States.

"Though Kroll has many skills, he was not trained in any. 'If I see a thing to do, I make it and learn that way,' he commented.

"Kroll is partially deaf and limps slightly from an old logging injury suffered when a donkey line smashed his right leg. 'If my legs were as good as my hands, I could do a good day's work yet,' he said. Kroll still splits wood for their kitchen range each day and spends much of the year working in his nearby vegetable garden.

" 'I feel fine,' he asserted. 'I might live a couple of more years yet. I don't know. But God knows.' Longevity runs in his family. Kroll's mother died at 103 and his father lived 98 years.

"They have had many happy years mixed with disappointments and sorrows. 'But when there were hardships, we shared them together. We worked hard and worked together,' she added.

"The couple fell in love with America from the beginning. 'The country has been good to us. We wouldn't change anything that's happened. If we have hardships again, we'll just go on,' Mrs. Kroll declares.

"The centenarian still smokes 'homemade' cigarettes, but takes liquor only for medicinal purposes. They maintain their home alone and 'we pay all of our own bills.'"

-Feb. 29, 1952, Longview Daily News as reprinted by The Chinook Observer

Mr. Kroll was right - he lived "a couple more years," dying in 1955, just 17 days shy of reaching his 103rd birthday. His wife had preceded him in death by about four months.

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