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LaSalle High's first librarian celebrates 100th birthday in Eastmoreland

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Bright and perky at age 100, six-decade Eastmoreland resident Beulah Parisi celebrates her 100th birthday in the Holy Family Catholic Church Celebration Hall.Saturday evening mass was a special celebration, at Holy Family Catholic Church, on December 1st – as parishioner Beulah Parisi celebrated her 100th birthday.

Parisi is well known in the community, remarked the Assistant to the Development Director at Holy Family Parish, Derrick Martin-Campbell. “She was our school’s first real librarian, back when our card catalog was just a shoebox full of note cards.”

After the mass, more than 100 friends and family gathered in the Holy Family Celebration Hall for a full dinner of cold cuts, salads, and desserts. But, spry as she is, it took Parisi more than a half hour to work her way to the buffet table – she was being stopped every few feet along the way for greetings by well-wishers.

The Willamette View resident didn’t hesitate a moment to speak of her age. “My birthday was December 1, 1912; yes, that’s a hundred years ago!”

Parisi – some called her “Bea” – said she grew up in northern Minnesota, went to Teachers College, and taught school for a while.

“I decided that I wanted to go to Alaska. When I was in Alaska, World War II broke out, so I stayed there. I worked at the USO – the third job I had there. I stayed there working with the GIs – and I finally married one, when the war was over.”

Her husband, “The father of my four kids, was transferred to Oregon, about 60 years ago.” So the family moved into the Eastmoreland neighborhood, about two blocks away from Holy Family Church.

Asked if she’d “worked”, Parisi quipped in response, “Did I work? Raising four kids is a lot of work!”

But, since she was living so close to it, she was volunteer librarian at Holy Family Catholic School for nine years. “We didn’t have a paid librarian. I’d taken some library work at University of Minnesota. So, after I had four kids in college, they hired me to be the librarian at LaSalle High School.”

In fact, she and Ed Barrientos, who attended her birthday party, were the first faculty members of that Milwaukie school in 1966.

When asked what changes she’s seen during the last century that have surprised or delighted her most, Parisi responded without hesitation. “It’s the computer, and the Internet. You can do so much and learn so much with it. Anything you want to know – just Google it!”

Her current learning challenge, she said, “is learning how to use the iPad my daughter and her family gave me. It looks like so much fun! Holding it, it’s only as thick piece of cardboard; it lets you hook up to the world.”

Along with her family, co-workers, and the thousands of students whose lives she’s touched, THE BEE wished her a very happy birthday, and many returns of the day.