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Celebrating a century

Nellie Rasmussen turns 100 years old July 31
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Nellie Rasmussen at 100 years and husband Richard, who’s 98 years old — Nellie celebrated her 100th on July 31 with family and friends. The couple will celebrate 76 years of marriage on Sept 18.

WESTLOCK – On Sunday, July 31, Nellie Rasmussen (nee Jayes) celebrated her 100th birthday, with a small group of family and friends for dinner at the Westlock Inn courtyard.

That was typical of her, never wanting to make a big fuss about anything, even the fact she has lived now for a century is no big deal in her thinking. About the only thing she has to say about that is, “How did I live this long?”

When we visited with her and her husband Richard in their apartment at Pembina Lodge recently, she had very little to say about those 100 years.

She was born Nellie Jayes on the family farm at home near Condor, AB, July 31, 1922, the youngest of five children.

In November 1945, she moved to Fawcett with her sister Gladys and husband John Rasmussen and family. They built and operated a White Rose service station and cafe on the east side of the newly-built Highway 44 about a mile north of Fawcett, where Nellie also worked for a time. The unofficial slogan of the place was “Eat with Ma and Gas with Pa.”

Nellie does admit part of her reason for coming to Fawcett was John Rasmussen’s nephew, Richard. She admits she was chasing him for a future husband.

Richard was also born at Condor, July 26, 1924, and in 1935 had moved to the Flatbush area with his parents and two brothers and three sisters.

Nellie’s quest for Richard paid off, and on Sept. 18, 1946, the couple were married in the little White Rose Cafe, where her sister Gladys put on their wedding reception meal. The happy couple moved to Richard’s quarter section farm in the Blue Hill area southeast of Flatbush. A second quarter, adjacent to the first, was later purchased, except for three acres where the Blue Hill School was located.

They continued to farm there for the next several years. Their son Lee was born in 1956 and daughter Janene in 1959. Both children attended school in Flatbush, Fawcett and Westlock.

Nellie and Richard moved from the farm to Westlock in 1974, but continued to farm the land for another year. In the meantime, Nellie went to work at Pembina Lodge in December 1974, where she continued for the next 12-and-a-half years before retiring. The couple moved into Pembina Lodge five years ago.

Up until her birthday, Nellie still held a valid Alberta driver’s licence but decided to give it as she’s doesn’t drive anymore.

Richard, not quite two years younger, recently had his driver’s licence renewed for two more years, though he admits he doesn’t drive much these days.

Both are enjoying their retirement days at Pembina Lodge, and mostly, Nellie appreciates the fact, “I don’t have to cook now!” They simply leave their third-floor apartment and go down to the lodge dining hall, where the meals are prepared for them, along with all the other residents.

For her 100 years, Nellie could probably write a book. Both her and Richard have good memories, but about all she will say about herself is that it has been a good life. They have worked hard and weathered the storms of life together for almost 76 years, and are today, enjoying a well-earned retirement, and the opportunity to visit with friends who stop by and share special memories with the older ones.

Les Dunford,

About the Author: Les Dunford

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