Vernon Worthington was born Dec. 30, 1907, and the day he celebrated his 100th birthday, he had a roaring fire in his wood stove in the home he and wife Ella built in 1946 in Long Beach, Wash., on Sandridge Road.
You cant talk about Vern without mentioning Ella, his bride of 75 years. She had brought in two wheelbarrows of wood the day before for the occasion and had baked Verns favorite carrot cake.
Vern, who died at 102 years of age Oct. 19, 2010, said the reason for his long life was hard work. I never expected to live to be 100, but having good genes is helpful. My mom Lilly lived 99 years and nine months. Vern was born and raised in Tillamook, and moved to the Peninsula in 1925 when his parents purchased a 300-acre farm on Tarlett Slough. Vern graduated from Ilwaco High School in 1928.
There were no jobs in the 1920s and 1930s. We worked in the cranberry bogs, dug razor clams, and Vern worked on the oyster beds and I worked in the steam canneries, Ella, who is now 103, explained. We didnt have time to feel sorry because we were poor. We were too busy and having too much fun with our friends.
In 1933, during the Great Depression, Vern constructed a 12x18-foot cabin the couple managed to live in their first 13 years together. Ella said, Wed put a curtain up at night to set off the kitchen and that was our bedroom. Vern served three years overseas during World War II; first in North Africa, then in Italy and finally Austria before Armistice Day. I was close to combat, but never in any fighting. On a ship in the Mediterranean, we thought we were going to go down hundreds of miles from anything. It got mighty rough that night, Vern said.
Upon returning to Long Beach he worked for the highway department until he retired at age 65. I helped build Pioneer Road, the highway on the ocean side (103) when the railroad shut down, several bridges in Naselle, and helped on the South Jetty.
The Worthingtons also had 25 dairy cattle, but Vern said, That old milk stool got pretty hard about the time I was done milking the 25th cow. They sold the farm in 1977 when the couple was 70 and enjoyed living life together at only a slightly slower pace after that.
The Worthingtons met in 1930 at the Long Beach Grange Hall and married in 1933. Our wedding trip was to South Bend because Vern had to come back to take care of those cows, Ella said. Vern spent his later years watching the Portland Trail Blazers on TV, doing the cooking, the washing and growing vegetables in their large garden, his favorites being zucchini, corn and spinach.
Because Ella was legally blind, Vern would dial the telephone and Ella did the talking. At his birthday party, he told family and friends the best part about turning 100 was being able to share it with Ella, and then Vern took her hand.