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"Quite a life"

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Harold Thurber and Violet Sullivan dance the afternoon away at Harold's 100th birthday party held on Saturday at the Estacada Community Center. The couple has been a couple for 22 years.

Not everybody can say they celebrated spending more than 20 years with a significant other just days after their 100th birthday party. But Harold Thurber can.

Thurber, his friends and family celebrated his 100th birthday on Saturday, April 16, at the Estacada Community Center. The following Wednesday, Thurber and his longtime friend, Violet Sullivan, celebrated 22 years of dating.

“It’s been amazing,” Thurber said. “(Violet and I) have a lot of memories.”

Sullivan agreed.

“The consistency and love we’ve had in our relationship has been wonderful,” she said.

The pair met at a dance at the Hollywood Senior Center in Portland. They hit it off, but the dance ended before they could exchange contact information.

Thurber, however, didn’t give up.

“I remember she lived in Estacada and her name was a flower,” he said.

He drove to Estacada to try to find her, but was unsuccessful. He had a hunch she would be at another dance held at the Rockwood Senior Center later that week. He was right.

Thurber drove Sullivan home from the dance, and they’ve been an item ever since.

Both had been married before, and their spouses had passed away. Sullivan was pleasantly surprised to find such a fulfilling relationship later in life.

“Not many old people find relationships like we have,” she said. “We’ve been really good for each other.”

Sullivan said she and Thurber have thought about getting married, but "dating is more fun."

Thurber usually spends a week at Sullivan’s house, and then a week at his own house in Portland. Until a few years ago, Thurber would make the drive from Portland to Estacada. Now, Sullivan drives him to a relative’s house in Damascus, who drives him back to Portland.

ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - Thurber stands with his daughter, Laurie Deering, and his girlfriend Violet Sullivan.

Thurber and Sullivan enjoy going to activities at the Estacada Community Center, particularly the dances.

The couple also enjoys traveling, estimating they took a yearly trip together for 15 years. Their favorite journey — on of their first together — was to Italy.

“It was my first time on an airplane,” Sullivan said. “But I felt safe with him.”

Both have a lot of great memories from the trip.

“It was so much fun to see all of the old castles,” Sullivan said. “We went to Venice and Rome.”

In addition to Italy, the couple has traveled all around the U.S.

Thurber turned 100 on April 13.

When reflecting on his life, he said he's glad to have seen how the world has changed over the past century. One area of particular interest to him is technology. While he was a student at Benson High School in Portland, he was in charge of operating the movie projector that played in the auditorium during lunch.

After graduating 1935 and receiving a scholarship for academic excellence, he continued to follow his interest in technology and industry by working as a lead communication electrician for Willamette Iron and Steel Co. He eventually opened his own repair business, Hal-tronics.

Today, Thurber enjoys using a computer for genealogy research, and he’s excited to see future technological endeavors.

“I think we’ve only scratched the surface,” he said.

When Thurber thought he might make it to 100, he set aside a separate savings account to prepare for the big day.

“I thought, if I hit 100 I’ll draw the money out and throw a party,” he said. He ended up saving $1,800.

On Saturday, his family and friends gathered at the Estacada Community Center for an afternoon of dancing.

“It was wonderful,” Sullivan said. “We had so many people come out (for Harold’s party).”

Reflecting on his accumulation of years, Thurber said “it’s been quite a life” with several pleasant surprises.

“I went to the dance and met Violet. I didn’t expect that to happen,” he said. “I had no idea it would be like this.”

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