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Whidbey Xtra! WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 13, 2016 | Vol. 1, No. 38 | WWW.WHIDBEYNEWSTIMES.COM | FREE
After 100 years, WWII vet is still horsing around By RON NEWBERRY
The stuffed horse that rests on Harvey Lasell’s kitchen counter was a gift he purchased for a great grandchild, but it’s no mystery who has derived the most pleasure from the toy. “Pinch his right ear,” Lasell says to his housekeeper, who accommodates the request but accidently grabs the wrong one. “His right ear!” Lasell barks out. “Shirley, where did you go to school?” Lasell gets away with plenty from the wooden rocking chair in his Oak Harbor home these days. It’s part of the license he’s earned for living to be 100. Reach out to shake Lasell’s hand and you’re bound to grip an “Energy Stick” instead. The device, which lights up when electricity is conducted and it works properly, amuses him. But not as much as when he teases his housekeeper. “He calls me Shirley. It’s just Sheila,” said Sheila Ryan. “He gives me a hard time.” Friends and family have come to expect the unexpected from Lasell, who has maintained his wit and sense of humor while reaching an age associated with longevity. Lasell, a retired Naval officer and World War II veteran, celebrated his
Photo by Ron Newberry / Whidbey News-Times
Harvey Lasell’s centenarian status is the latest milestone of a life filled with memories of family and the Navy. 100th birthday this month on two different occasions, neither of them on the actual date he was born. The first was a gathering in his honor at the Officers Club at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in which local magician JR Russell played a
slideshow of Lasell’s life and asked him questions. “I asked him, ‘Harvey, everyone wants to know, what is the secret to living to 100?’” Russell said. “He said, ‘Don’t die.’” Joyce Kuhn has her own theories.
She said her dad has always been a proud and determined man, physically fit, independent and strongwilled, but admits good genes have likely played a role. Harvey Lasell was born Dec. 23, 1915, in Williamstown, Vt., grew
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up on a farm, became a keen shot and developed a love of horses at an early age. He later followed a family tradition by graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy and served 21 years in the Navy, including time aboard the USS Yorktown during the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway in 1942. His skills as a marksman earned him the Secretary of the Navy’s pistol trophy. “If I had to describe Harvey, I’d say that the man is all Navy,” said Lesley Robbins, his longtime friend and neighbor. “The Navy has been his life.” After retiring from the Navy, Lasell spent a second career with Boeing and has lived on a small farm setting in Oak Harbor since 1982. He lost Betty, his wife of 54 years, in 1994. They had five children, four of whom are still living. Joyce Kuhn and her husband live next door to her father to help keep an eye on him in his later years. Kuhn said she continues to be amazed by her dad, who doesn’t wear glasses except for reading and owns hearing aids but never wears them. “He’s quite a storyteller,” Kuhn said. “He loves to tell stories. Horses are very important to him. They still are. He doesn’t have any now. SEE LASELL, PAGE 3
Xtra!CALENDAR Wednesday Jan. 13
Baby and Me Storytime, 9:30 a.m., Jan. 13, Oak Harbor Library meeting room. Playtime follows. For newborns through 24 months. Caregiver required. 360675-5115. Suicide Grief Support Group meeting, 6 p.m., Jan. 13, at Hospice of Whidbey General. This is a time for individuals who have lost a loved one to suicide to meet with others and learn coping strategies and methods of moving forward through grief and other feelings. Register by contacting Dave Bieniek, bereavement coordinator, at bienied@ whidbeygen.org or 360321-1372. Literature and Laughter Book Group, 6:15-7:45 p.m., Jan. 13, Coupeville Library. Join us for a discussion of “The Sandcastle Girls” by Chris Bohjalian. 360-678-4911. Alcoholics Anonymous, 7 p.m., Jan. 13, in the Whidbey General Hospital conference room. Contact Tim M. at timmondk@hotmail. com or 360-320-8936 for more information.
Thursday Jan. 14
Ready Readers Preschool Storytime, 9:30 a.m., Jan. 14 at Coupeville Library. For ages 2-5 years with caregiver. Playtime or craft may follow.
House of Hope NarAnon meeting, 7-8 p.m., every Thursday beginning Jan. 7 at Oak Harbor Lutheran Church, 1253 NW 2nd St., Oak Harbor. The Nar-Anon Family Groups are a worldwide fellowship for those affected by someone else’s addiction. All that is required for membership is that there be a problem of addiction in a relative or friend. karol@whidbey. com Preschool Storytime, 9:30 a.m., Jan. 14, Oak Harbor Library meeting room. Playtime or craft may follow. For ages 3-5 years. Caregiver required. 360-675-5115.
Friday Jan. 15
NRA Basic Pistol shooting class, 6-9 p.m., Jan. 15, North Whidbey Sportsmen’s Association range, 886 Gun Club Road, Oak Harbor. Class introduces students to the knowledge, skills and attitude necessary for owning and using a pistol safely. Through this course, the students will learn about pistol parts and operation, ammunition, gun safety, pistol shooting fundamentals and pistol shooting activities. NWSA is an organization of men and women who support, encourage and engage in the responsible use of the outdoors, including hunting, fishing and the shooting sports: archery, shotgun, rifle and pistol. The Basic Pistol Course will also help prepare the student for participation in other NRA courses. This class
includes shooting on the NWSA Pistol Range. The cost of the class is $25 and includes a book. For questions or to register call NRA instructor John Hellmann at 360-6758397 or email NWSA. Training@gmail.com Additional information can be found at www. northwhidbeysportsmen. org
Star Party, Island County Astronomical Society, begins at dark, Jan. 15, Fort Nugent Park, 2075 SW Fort Nugent Road, Oak Harbor. Explore the night sky and view distant galaxies, planets and nebulas at this free public Star Party hosted by the Island County Astronomical Society (ICAS). No telescope is needed and people of all ages are welcome to attend. Dress warmly. Event will be canceled if the weather is cloudy. For more information, contact Dan Pullen at 360-6797664 or icaspub@juno. com, or go to www.icas wa.org Whidbey Fly Fishing Club meeting, 7-9:30 p.m., Jan. 13, Day Road fire station, 3253 Day Road, Greenbank. The fly club meets informally to discuss upcoming outings, listen to guest speakers and share techniques in fly fishing. It is a great opportunity for the experienced fly fisher as well as the beginner wanting help with equipment, fly selection and more. email@example.com
Saturday Jan. 16
League of Women Voters of Whidbey
Wednesday, January 13, 2016 • WhidbeyXtra!
MEET THE ARTIST, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Jan. 31, Penn Cove Gallery, Coupeville. Visit with photographer Kelly Kellogg. Kellogg uses a variety of camera formats and photographic techniques to obtain results ranging from realistic, impressionistic and even surreal. After more than 20 years as a professional photographer, Kellogg continues to study photography by learning new methods. www. penncovegallery.com
Island “Brunch with Legislators,” 9:30 a.m.noon, Jan. 16, Whidbey Golf Club, Oak Harbor. Meet with State Senator Barbara Bailey and State Representatives Norma Smith and Dave Hayes to hear what may be happening in Olympia this year. The public is welcome. Mail checks for $20 for each reservation to LWVWI, P.O. Box 1933, Oak Harbor, WA 98277 by Jan. 8.
Sunday Jan. 17
Alcoholics Anonymous, 7 p.m., Jan. 17, in the Whidbey General Hospital conference room. Contact Tim M. at timmondk@hotmail. com or 360-320-8936 for more information.
Wednesday Jan. 20
Alcoholics Anonymous, 7 p.m., Jan. 20, in the Whidbey General Hospital conference room. Contact Tim M. at timmondk@hotmail. com or 360-320-8936 for more information.
Thursday Jan. 21
House of Hope NarAnon meeting, 7-8 p.m., every Thursday beginning Jan. 7 at Oak Harbor Lutheran Church, 1253 NW 2nd St., Oak Harbor. The Nar-Anon Family Groups are a worldwide fellowship for those affected by someone else’s addiction. All that is required for membership is that there be a problem of addiction in a relative
or friend. karol@whidbey. com Preschool Storytime, 9:30 a.m., Jan. 21, Oak Harbor Library meeting room. Playtime or craft may follow. For ages 3 to 5 years. Caregiver required. 360-675-5115. Geology Underfoot: Whidbey Island and Western Washington, 3 p.m., Jan. 21, Oak Harbor Library meeting room. Did you know that Whidbey Island has been covered by ice many times during its geologic history? Author and geoscientist Dave Tucker will share geologic tales, covering sites from Western Washington’s low-lying shorelines to its rugged mountaintops. Presented by the Friends of the Oak Harbor Library. 360-6755115. Free. Book signing and reading, 6-7 p.m., Jan. 21, Best Western Plus Harbor Plaza and Convention Center, 33175 State Highway 20, Oak Harbor. Gail Rognan will share her raw, candid account and experiences of how she dealt with breast cancer. Through her story, Rognan shares how our mind, body and spirit intersect to help us heal ourselves; how alternative treatments can be combined with traditional health treatments; how to listen to ourselves and avoid illness; and how illness can teach us about who we really are. www. renewal-of-spirit.com
Friday Jan. 22
Bingo for Kids, 1 p.m., Jan. 22 in the Coupeville
Elementary School Multipurpose Room. Bring the whole family for an hour of fun. For schoolage children and their caregivers. Supported by the Friends of the Coupeville Library. Tied-Dyed Tote Bags, 1 p.m., Jan. 22, at Coupeville Library. Teens and tweens are invited to create unique designs by tie-dyeing with Sharpies! Tote bags and art supplies provided. Limit of 20, please register in advance. Supported by Friends of the Coupeville Library.
Saturday Jan. 23
Family nature film, 2 p.m, Jan. 23, Oak Harbor Library meeting room. Mark Linfield’s nature documentary follows the struggles of a young monkey mother to care for and raise her new baby in the wilds of southern Asia. Author: Perry Seibert. Call the library for more detail. Film is rated G and is 81 minutes in length. Supported by the Friends of the Oak Harbor Library. Refreshments provided. 360-675-5115. Free.
Sunday Jan. 24
Alcoholics Anonymous, 7 p.m., Jan. 24, in the Whidbey General Hospital conference room. Contact Tim M. at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-320-8936 for more information.
Wednesday, January 13, 2016 • WhidbeyXtra!
LASELL CONTINUED FROM A1 He’s fearless about horses. Many times I just about died a thousand deaths because he was out there doing something he shouldn’t have been doing. He still doesn’t realize that being 100 is quite old. He still thinks he can do anything.” And, until recently, that included driving a vehicle. He
wasn’t able to get his driver’s license renewed after it expired on his 98th birthday. He even appealed after he couldn’t get a passing grade on the driving test. “He was very upset the state took away his driver’s license and even more upset that his daughter took the keys,” Kuhn said. Over time, Lasell loosened up a little about the subject. With “Shirley” to tease and others to target for personal amusement, there isn’t much
time to take life too seriously. He said his secret to longevity is the breakfast he’s eaten every morning for as far back as he can remember. He has a bowl of oatmeal with a specific number of raisins. “Seventeen raisins in my oatmeal,” Lasell said. Does it have to be 17? “Yes,” Lasell said. “Seventeen. I count them.” Last Sunday, Lasell was surrounded by friends and family at the San Remo
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Restaurant in Oak Harbor for a second celebration. About 150 people attended the event, including Capt. Michael Nortier, the commanding officer at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. Lasell’s charm was on display, as was his singing voice. His eyes lit up while enjoying the company of so many familiar faces, including some of his 15 great grandchildren. “To be able to stay as sharp as he is, that’s the key to the whole thing,” said one
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of Lasell’s longtime friends. Judy Anderson came down from Fairbanks, Alaska. Her father, John Anderson, was a Class of 1939 Naval Academy graduate along with Lasell. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” Anderson said. Lasell sat in his rocking chair next to a case full of medals he had earned during his military service, including the Bronze Star. “I’m having as good a time as I did when we started shooting at the enemy,”
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Lasell said between bites of birthday cake. “It was even more interesting when they started shooting back.” It was tough to tell if this was Lasell’s humor at work again. He had that twinkle in his eye as he spoke, then waited for a reaction. Then, Lasell got more serious when he talked about the party. “I knew something was up,” he said, “but I didn’t think it would be anything like this.”
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