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A Guide to a FulďŹ lling Senior Life in Whatcom County

ENCORE Wednesday, February 14, 2018

What’s Inside.... Monty Richardson, Jennie Bakker and Alex Motes have all celebrated their 100th birthdays ...........................C2, C10 Gayle Davis leads Senior Stretch classes at the Jansen Art Center ......C8

A supplement of the Lynden Tribune and Ferndale Record


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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 14, 2018 | Ferndale Record

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100 years, most lived in Alaska, for Monty Richardson Resident at Meadow Greens is excellent storyteller of his life By Calvin Bratt editor@lyndentribune.com

   LYNDEN — ­ In 100 years of living, a man accumulates some experiences to share. And Monty Richardson, with a good memory and a strong voice, can tell them as well as anyone.    “I like to think I have a better memory than most 100-year-olds,” he quipped during a reporter’s visit.    His children, two of whom live locally, helped arrange an open-house party for Monty at Meadow Greens Retirement Community right on his Jan. 25 birthday.    Although he spent so much of his life, about 60 years, in Alaska — coming to Lynden with his wife, Florita, in 2015 — his story really begins down in the American Southeast.    “I was born in the hill country of Arkansas in 1918 when World War I was raging in Europe,” he said. “My dad was a farmer, and they got deferred.”    However, even with Monty being a third child in the family, his dad’s reprieve was only for nine months. Fortunately, the war ended in that time.    There’s more about his birth. “There was a midwife in the hills. The doctor was about 35 miles away. My dad had to hitch up the wagon in a snowstorm and go about a dozen miles — a long way in that time — to get the midwife. We had to track her down.”    In his childhood the family moved to Oklahoma and Monty considers the Sooner State to be his “ancestral home.” He was an avid outdoorsman already as a boy, hunting small game in Oklahoma.    He went to college for two years. When World War II came along, Monty wanted to enlist in the U.S. military, but because of a bad eye he was rejected.    He sought work in the defense-support industry. (For that, he had to produce a birth certificate, so his mother tracked down the midwife in Arkansas to get one.) In 1943 he got a job in the Seattle shipyards, and he was part of a firm making mine sweepers for the British government.    “We were more patriotic then,” he muses. “We were against two stronger,

Monty Richardson had his three childen joining him for his 100th birthday celebration. From left are son Phil Richardson, daughter Rebecca Thario and daughter Catherine Hedman. (Courtesy photo/Rebecca Thario) brutal enemies than what we have had the last 40 years with the brushfire wars.”    Back in Oklahoma, Monty worked some in his dad’s retail businesses, but it was seven days a week and not satisfying.    In 1947 he married a local school teacher in the community. Because he had two years in, they decided he should complete his college education, even in his 30s and with kids, “on and off, on and off,” he said. He earned his bachelor’s degree at age 32.    His first teaching job was in the tiny prairie hamlet of Agate, Colorado. Just months in, the superintendent died unexpectedly of a heart attack, and Richardson was asked to step into his place. He did, heading a school of about 100 students, but to continue to be a school administra-

tor he would need to get his master’s degree. He did that over four years.    He was attracted to the “last frontier” of the north. He sorted through many possibilities and chose Homer, Alaska, where he stayed for two years before moving with Florita and their young family to Seward on the Kenai Peninsula in 1958. In his education career, he was mostly at the junior high level teaching athletics and social studies.    “Seward was good to us,” he says simply.    The hunting and fishing opportunities were perfect for him, and Richardson believes the rugged outdoor life in Alaska helped toughen him to last 100 years.    He once took some paying customers out on an unregistered skiff, and the U.S.

Coast Guard slapped him with a fine. So he went through protocol to get a proper skipper’s license, and he was on his way to something he did for many summers — taking up to six people out on his boat into Resurrection Bay and the Gulf of Alaska for fishing and sightseeing.    He got used to the Alaska climate. Winters are “long and dark and cold,” true, but he feels worse about the global warming that is wreaking havoc on arctic patterns and wildlife. Polar bears cannot find ice floes from which they hunt for their food out of the water. Swimming miles, they are drowning — “so sad,” he said.    Twice in the last few winters he was up in Alaska, there was no snow on the

Continued on C3


Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 14, 2018 | Ferndale Record

ENCORE ground at Christmas. The big Alaska quake    Richardson said that everyone in Alaska got used to “shakers” of 3.5 to 5 on the Richter scale lasting 20 to 40 seconds.    But the big one that struck on Good Friday, March 27, 1964, at magnitude 9.2 and lasting four minutes, was far beyond what anyone had ever anticipated and caused great damage and loss in Alaska. It occurred at 3:36 p.m. across south-central Alaska, bringing ground fissures, collapsing buildings and tsunamis resulting from the earthquake causing about 139 deaths in all.    The three Richardson kids were ages 5 through 16.    Everything seemed to be burning. The water supply was cut off, as mains had been broken. “We thought we were going to get burned up,” Richardson recalls.    Folks weren’t as cognizant of “tidal waves,” as they were called, then as now, Monty said, and it was fortunate that most residents of Seward did get to higher ground before the first backlash of sea water hit the harbor town about 45 minutes after the quake.    “Most people got away safely. One

Monty Richardson is surrounded by six of his nine grandchildren on his 100th birthday on Jan. 25. (Courtesy photo/ See Richardson on C4

Rebecca Thario)

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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 14, 2018 | Ferndale Record

Richardson Continued from C3 road led directly away from the bay. We jumped in our vehicle and went banging up that road.”    Everything about normal life was disrupted for a while, of course. School was out for about 10 days. Then those who wanted to begin clearing and reconstruction wanted to get the kids out of the way, and so school was urgently restarted.    Seward never did quite rebuild its longshoring industry to what it had been. Instead, Seward began a shift more toward tourism.

Monty Richardson keeps close by a favorite photo of himself as “skipper” of his own small fishing and sightseeing boat out of Seward, Alaska. The photo appeared in a hardcover travel book. (Calvin Bratt/Lynden Tribune)

Retirement    Once both Monty and Florita retired from teaching, they did much traveling in a motor home, getting away from the extremes of Alaska to warmer climes as far south as the middle of Mexico.    “We traveled the south 48 fairly extensively, finally making all 50 states,” he said.    Monty attributes longevity to his mother’s side of the family — “she was

See Richardson on C6

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More than 70 Civil War Veterans are interred in the Lynden Cemetery.


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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 14, 2018 | Ferndale Record

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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 14, 2018 | Ferndale Record

Three LCHS classmates still together as CHCC nurses Combined, this trio has given more than 114 years to elderly care By Calvin Bratt editor@lyndentribune.com

   LYNDEN — ­ Three who graduated from Lynden Christian High School in the same year, 1970, continue to work together at the Christian Health Care Center, for a combined total of more than 114 years.    That joint achievement of Fran Matheis, Nellie Vander Kooi and Jane Lenssen was called “incredible” by Patrick O’Neill, chief executive officer, as he shared in the January 2018 The Pulse newsletter of the care center.    “These three nurses have dedicated

their lives to the long-term care of Lynden’s most important citizens,” O’Neill wrote. “Add to that the fact that they have also mentored countless nurses who have worked in our facility over the decades, and you will start to see the impact they have had during their careers.”    A photo of the trio taken around Christmas was also posted on Facebook.    These were some of the descriptions of them offered by fellow employees:    • “wonderful, dedicated, faithful, awesome nurses, earth angels.”    • “I will never forget what I learned from each of them to become a better nurse.”    • “So much love and care shown by these three lovely ladies.”      Both Matheis and Lenssen continue to work three 12-hour shifts per week. Vander Kooi is in a more limited role aiding new hires as they learn nurse’s work

at CHCC.    O’Neill continued: “Fran, Nellie and Jane are wonderful examples of commitment, community and caring. They have shown a commitment to the mission of CHCC by remaining faithful and dedicated. They have served families in our geographic community, and they have helped to develop the community of nurses in Whatcom County. They have cared for countless individuals. By working at CHCC for a combined total of 114 years, they have made a positive mark on this facility and on their community. That means something.    “Today, it’s becoming rare for people to commit to an employer for years, much less decades. That is a shame, because it does take time to earn trust build relationships, make connections and do the work that has a lasting impact. Like these nurses have."

From left, Fran Matheis, Nellie Vander Kooi and Jane Lenssen, who were Lynden Christian High School classmates, pose at a holiday gathering in December 2017. (Courtesy photo/Patrick O’Neill)

Richardson Continued from C4 pretty active into her 90s.”    He says he also was a fairly active YMCA pool swimmer up until he was 94, getting up at 6 a.m. to do so.    Monty now gets around with a walker, trying not to be too bothered by sciatica pain in his lower back. He has the typical compartmentalized box to help keep track of his daily medicines. “Anytime you go to a specialist, you get more prescriptions too.”    “I’m not doing much these days, mostly eating and sleeping,” he said.    And telling his stories.

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Monty Richardson was an avid fisherman and large-game hunter throughout his many years in Alaska. (Courtesy photos)

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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 14, 2018 | Ferndale Record

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34-year Apple Valley Apts. manager retiring Addy Vanden Berg to be replaced by Mary Yoder    LYNDEN — Addy Vanden Berg retired on Friday, Feb. 9, after 34 years of serving the community and the tenants at Apple Valley Apartments.    She assumed the position of site manager beginning in 1984. Apple Valley is a senior complex located at 8611 Depot Rd., just south of Lynden Trucking.    Vanden Berg has served in multiple roles simultaneously over the years, doing all the extensive administrative tasks, most of the light maintenance and much of the

landscaping.   During her career, she was recognized and awarded on two occasions as Site Manager of the Year. This award is given by the Washington State Council for Affordable & Rural Housing at state conventions.    Over the many years, Addy served countless tenants and their extended families. She did not consider it just a job, but also a ministry, thoroughly enjoying those she came in contact with, said her husband, Don Vanden Berg.    Mary Yoder of Birch Bay will take over the manager’s position.    Any cards or letters of congratulations on Addy’s retirement can be sent to 8514 Depot Rd., Lynden, WA 98264.

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Addy Vanden Berg has wrapped up her long stint being an apartments complex manager. (Courtesy photo)


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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 14, 2018 | Ferndale Record

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Bouncing back with Senior Stretch Instructor Gayle Davis preaches importance of ‘get up and move’ By Ashley Hiruko ashley@lyndentribune.com

   LYNDEN — Calm. It’s a word that comes to mind for describing the atmosphere of Gayle Davis’s Senior Stretch classes at the Jansen Art Center. Soft instrumental music soothes in the large room as Davis leads her small, intimate group of six students ages 65 to 91 through a set of gentle stretches used at first to warm up their bodies. Many other expressions could be used to describe the kind of teaching style Davis embraces during her fitness grouping — empathy, persistence, strength. It’s seen in the one-on-one attention she pays to each client as she moves throughout the room, giving close notice to their posing. And as the participants proceed from lifting one leg, reaching their arm to the side and doing the same for the other half of their body, their instructor pleads the same message often repeated throughout the one-hour lesson. “Listen to your body,” she says. Davis, a 76-year-old health enthusiast, knows first-hand the importance of paying attention to one’s wellness. It was an intuition about her health that led her to getting a scary diagnosis. In 2010, at the age of 70, Davis was told she had stage three colon cancer. She was taken aback. Davis had made it a point throughout her life to eat healthy and stay active. She had even begun taking yoga classes during this time. “I didn’t realize colon cancer ran in the family,” Davis said. “I wasn’t feeling well. I’m pretty in tune with my body and things were not quite right.” Colon cancer is the third leading cause of death among men and women in the country, according to the American Cancer Society. It’s anticipated that the disease will cause 50,630 deaths during 2018. And the risk of developing the illness increases with age. “Not too many people talk about (colon cancer),” Davis said. “People say they’re not going to get the test because the prep is pretty bad. People need to lis-

Fitness instructor Gayle Davis incorporates different weights into her weekly Monday gatherings. Participants are also able to use chairs and foam blocks to ease some of the discomfort that may come along with stretching. (Ashley Hiruko/Lynden Tribune) ten to their body talk. It’s so important.” For Davis, her long battle with the frightening disease had some close calls. Her doctors told her she had a 50/50 chance of survival. She underwent the treatment of radiation and a little bit of chemotherapy until she was given the all clear. Her diagnosis, however, changed something for the positive-minded Lynden resident. She was made more aware of what others were going through, specifi-

cally the illnesses affecting their lives. “Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I never really thought of other people’s ailments,” Davis said. Now she understood and wanted to offer some reprieve. Davis became a certified yoga instructor at age 72 and decided to focus her time on a very specialized form of senior stretch and yoga. She facilitates physical courses at the Jansen targeted at helping seniors both with and without disabilities and uses slow stretches to help students

develop muscle, flexibility and improved mobility. Some of the people in her class have had knee replacements, hip replacements or other kinds of physical problems, she said. One student suffers from a rare muscle deterioration disorder and credits the class in keeping them out of a wheelchair. “They’re the ones that do all the work,” Davis said. “I just offer what’s available and they do it.” Continued on C9


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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 14, 2018 | Ferndale Record

ENCORE And those who join in the class are given options. Chairs are provided for those who would prefer to sit during the movements rather than stand. Modifications, or easier alternatives, are given for movements that may be too strenuous for some. “People sometimes come in to do work on a particular body part,” Davis said. “Everybody has something going on in their bodies that they need to just stretch and feel better and work on.” But her class isn’t all serious. The small size leads to some strong connections within what has now become a group of friends. Laughter intermittently interrupts as they lose count of the number of repetitions completed of a particular movement. Or as they perform a position that could be construed as embarrassing for some. But the group returns every Monday knowing that the time and effort given this way in their day helps in the long run. “No matter how old you are or what physical condition you’re in, you need to get out of the chair and move,” Davis said. “I’m not saying go to yoga. You can walk and just move your arms and legs. Go to the library and get a basic video or stretching video. We have so much available to us. People just need to get up and move.”

A group of six stretches their arms toward the ceiling during one of Gayle Davis's movement sessions at the Jansen Art Center on Monday, Feb. 5. (Ashley Hiruko/Lynden Tribune)

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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 14, 2018 | Ferndale Record

Two others at Meadow Greens are also past 100

Jennie Bakker marked her 102nd birthday last Dec. 16 while Alex Motes just turned 101 on Jan. 16. (Calvin Bratt/Lynden Tribune)

Jennie Bakker and Alex Motes stories also told By Calvin Bratt editor@lyndentribune.com

   LYNDEN — ­ As the Tribune pursued a story on Monty Richardson turning 100 (see page C2), we became aware of two other centenarians at Meadow Greens Retirement Community whose life stories had not been told in our pages. So here is a recap:   Jennie Bakker has lived almost her entire life — over 100 years of it, that is

— in the Lynden area. After she was born Dec. 16, 1915 near Chouteau, Montana, her parents came to Lynden in 1917 when she was about a year and a half.    Jennie was the third of three sisters, followed by a younger brother. They, along with closest friends she had, have all passed, she said.    Jennie may be most known for living for 56 years with older sister Frances, and earlier also their mother Fanny, in a stately old house at 1108 Grover St. They moved into town there from an Abbott Road farm after father Ed Bakker died in the mid-1940s. Jennie claims that the Grover Street house, still standing, was the first one in Lynden to have a tele-

phone installed in it.    The children went through the Riverside country school on Abbott Road, and Jennie also says that “on Saturdays we had Bible class (in Lynden), and a lot of the time we would walk.”    She recalls that her father did his field work on 25 acres entirely with horses, and most of the neighbors did too, although the family did have an auto for their transportation.    Early on, the livery stables that had been for horses still stood behind First Christian Reformed Church, where the Bakkers attended, but the building was not used for horses anymore, she said.    She did not go to high school. “In

those days, that’s the way it was. It wasn’t forced. There was limited transportation to town” — no school buses yet.    Jennie worked for some years at Whatcom Laundry of Lynden, then got into the trade of cooking that she practiced for 18 years at the old Christian Rest Home, then for Lynden restaurants including Dutch Treat, Feed Mill and The Loft.    As to living so long, Jennie says she has no particular secret to share.    Jennie came to Meadow Greens from apartments just before she turned 100 in 2015. She continues to attend First CRC on Sundays, picked up by a church transport vehicle. She says she remem-


Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 14, 2018 | Ferndale Record

ENCORE bers the first pastor, Rev. Brink, in his retirement, and Jennie can list off many of the pastors of most of 100 years there.    Kids’ catechism was being switched from Dutch to English when she was in it, but Jennie says that she can understand a conversation in Dutch. “We learned it. If people talk Dutch to me, I can understand every word.”   Alex Motes will acknowledge that at age 101 his mind can get “a little mixed up” sometimes.    When that happens, the pictures and news clippings displayed on the wall of Alex’s Meadow Greens apartment can do plenty of communicating instead.    The items of wartime service tell that Motes was a machine gunner and assistant driver of a Sherman tank pushing into France within a week after the June 1944 Normandy beach invasion that turned the tide of World War II in Europe. He was on one of five Army tanks in a unit providing cover for infantry making their way onto enemy-held ground.    Motes would eventually earn a Bronze Star for valor and a Purple Heart for wounds, relatively minor, sustained on Sept. 4, 1944 in Belgium. A notification telegram went to his wife Amy in Pasadena, California.

   A Memorial Day 2012 feature story on Motes in the Medford, Oregon, newspaper relates that he found it difficult to talk to his family later about being in World War II, as he had gone through what today is termed “post traumatic stress disorder” from war experiences.    Motes was living in the Medford area six years ago. Then his wife died, and daughter Sally Rowse of Lynden, after driving the distance to Oregon for a while, saw to it that he came to live closer to her.    “I take care of his affairs,” she said.    His birthdate is Jan. 16, 1917. Motes claims he was originally from “the swamps of Florida” near Miami, but grew up “all over the country.”    His daughter says that the family had settled in southern Oregon in the 1950s when Alex felt a call to Christian pastoral ministry. He earned a degree from the Simpson Bible Institute, which was in Seattle at the time before shifting to California in 1955.    He was a pastor of various Christian and Missionary Alliance churches in Oregon and Washington, his daughter said. The nearest to Whatcom County would be one at Arlington, in Snohomish County, that grew from about 30 when Alex was there to quite large today.

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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 14, 2018 | Ferndale Record

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