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Gresham woman celebrates turning 90

Edith Flesher remembers when Gresham was mostly berry fields

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Edith Flesher,  beams as she enjoys her 90th birthday party at Redeemer Lutheran Church. Edith Flesher celebrated her 90th birthday on Jan, 21, with coloring books and cupcakes and surrounded by friends at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Gresham.

The birthday party came a day after her real birthday, Jan. 20, marking a significant milestone in her life.

Flesher, born in Anamoose, N.D., has lived in Gresham since 1954. She and her husband, Fred Flesher, owned a roller skating rink in Gresham until 1978, when Multnomah County bought out the property and closed the rink.

The couple bought another skating rink in Lebanon after theirs closed, but then divorced. Edith stayed in Gresham and went to work for the Aid Association for Lutherans, now named Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, a nonprofit insurance agency.

The Fleshers have two children, Lorna and Bill, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, with a seventh on the way.

Flesher’s good friend Janice Moody planned the party.

“My kids used to go skating at the rink,” Moody said. “I never dreamed that somebody we would get to know each other.”

Moody, who will also be 90 in April, and Flesher met at the Lutheran Church 40 years ago and have been good friends ever since.

Together they volunteered for Thrivent and traveled all around the country as “lamp lighters," which Moody explained as the person who was the go-between for the insurance agents and clients.

Flesher said owning the roller rink was center to her family’s life, as her children grew up in the rink.

“They were never out of our site,” Flesher said.

She was also involved as a Girl Scout leader for many years.

Flesher remembers when Gresham was mostly berry fields.

“It was a big change in this area throughout my time,” Flesher said. “At that time, the kids, they’d go out and pick the berries. Nowadays you couldn’t get a kid to go out and pick berries if your life depended on it.”

Growing up, Flesher had no phone, electricity or indoor plumbing. She was in high school by the time her family got their first car.

“The toilet part was the worst of all,” Flesher said.

She said the thing that’s changed her life the most has been the computer.

“I can remember when I went to work for the Aid Association for Lutherans there was an electric typewriter and I didn’t know how to run it. I had to call my girlfriend for help,” Flesher said.

She’s been using a computer for years now, though it recently went “kaput.”

Moody described her friend as “resilient,” especially after having her leg amputated at the knee.

Flesher said her secret to a long life is to “be happy.”

“I can’t stand to be around negative people,” Flesher said. “I try to be around positive people.”