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Three locals mark a century of living

Two men and one woman share fond memories and wisdom after 100 years
by: submitted photo Edwin Ellsworth celebrated his 100th birthday on Oct. 28 with a big piece of chocolate cake and cup of coffee.

As we prepare to bid 2011 goodbye, Edwin Ellsworth, Bill Metler and Gertrude Roeschman have a special reason to celebrate - the three reached the century mark this year.

Ellsworth, a longtime resident of Milwaukie, lives in Southeast Portland, but takes Sit 'N Fit, an exercise class at the Milwaukie Center.

He was born on Oct. 28, 1911, in the Berkeley neighborhood of Portland, just south of the Woodstock neighborhood, in a two-room shack that was on a lot on 39th Avenue.

'Ed's first real job, after jobs such as newspaper route, caddying at the Eastmoreland Golf Course and getting paid for collecting golf balls, was a summer job working on the Weber Brothers dairy farm in Clackamas County,' said Mary Rooklidge, his great-niece. 'He worked there for one summer, when he was about 13 years old, and lived on the farm. His job was cleaning out the barn and packing milk. He was paid $30 per month, but says he never saw his paycheck as his family needed the money.'

The event that had the biggest impact on his life was the Depression, he said, and he added that air travel represented the biggest change he saw in the world.

His advice to young people is 'keep your cool,' meaning try not to stress out, Rooklidge said.

Metler certainly had the splashiest birthday party for any age, when he was feted on Dec. 10 at Team Latus Motors Harley-Davidson in Gladstone.

'He used to ride motorcycles, and we thought it would be a nice birthday surprise for him' to sit on a motorcycle again, said Annie Neuberger, his daughter-in-law, noting that about 25 people attended the celebration.

Metler was born on a farm in Knoxville, Tenn., on Dec. 21, 1911, and moved with his parents to Oregon when he was a child. He lived in Milwaukie for most of his adult years, and is a resident at Royalton Place on Southeast King Road.

He had a lot of jobs, including working at Bonneville Dam and at Freightliner, repairing trucks.

His advice to young people is, 'Work hard, earn money and retire young.'

Roeschman, a resident of Deerfield Village Assisted Living in Milwaukie, will turn 100 on Dec. 26, said her daughter, Bea Schmidt. She was born on a farm in Hankinsen, N.D.

Because she always wanted to go to Hawaii, but never did, the facility will host a luau for her on Dec. 28, complete with Hawaiian-themed music and refreshments.

As a young single mother, Roeschman worked in a restaurant in Iowa, earning $1 a day. A friend told her about job opportunities in Oregon during World War II, so she and her daughter rode to Portland in a troop train, where she found a job as a welder. She met her second husband in the shipyards at Swan Island and married again when Schmidt was 18.

She had no advice for young people, but did note that she had to make so many decisions in her life that she changed her whole life several times.

What has been the biggest change during her lifetime? Television, Roeschman said.