Columbia Basin Care staff are seeing more and more residents celebrating birthdays over 100 — they currently have a resident aged 103 and last year one who was 105. Another resident, Jean Greene, turned 101 last week.
Greene, who friends say has always been no-nonsense in everything she does, was not feeling up to the decorative birthday crown, button and sash she was given the day of her party in the activities room; so her friend Bonnie Biddix wore them instead.
“I always talk her out of her moods,” Biddix said, “she’s not a fan of being cheerful except when you talk to her and get her laughing, then she forgets and gets goofy,” she said. “I act like a goose so she can’t mope.”
Lorna Jean Greene was born on Jan. 4, 1917, and spent her life in The Dalles. Her friend Florence Lulow recalls Greene telling stories about her family raising a garden, canning, and being pulled around the yard in a goat-drawn cart her father made.
Greene worked as a secretary at Tenneson Engineering for most of her life and had a “mind like a steel trap” for numbers, friends say. “She’s still a secretary,” Lulow said, commenting on Greene’s tidiness and businesslike attitude.
Greene was 28 when she married her husband, who was a soldier in World War II, friends said.
“He was quiet and she was quiet and they could have been happy like that until perpetuity,” Biddix said, “but he got an itch for someone else.”
They separated but when her husband got sick and went to Columbia Basin, “she took pity on him,” Biddix said.
Greene visited her husband at Columbia Basin every day for the 10 years he was a resident before his death. Greene herself has been a resident at Columbia Basin since 2011.
Friend and fellow resident Yvonne Hartung appreciates Greene for her sense of style and wardrobe, recalling a time when the two would exchange clothes.
“She has the classiest clothes ever,” Hartung said. Greene prides herself on her polished wardrobe and hair, even at her age as she suffers from dementia and physical problems that cause her pain.
Greene is an avid reader, friends say, recalling Greene sitting outside on nice days with the thickest book she could find.
Greene was never one for small talk or idle chatter, friends say, but she is appreciating both more as she’s getting older.
There were no children in Greene’s family and she is left without any surviving relatives; but she is frequently visited by Biddix and Lulow and connects well with the residents and staff at Columbia Basin.
“She is a kind hearted and loving person,” Lulow said.
— by Emily Fitzgerald
Reprinted from The Dalles Chronicle