Peninsula Reflections

Posted: Monday, May 28, 2007

This series of articles has toured Spruce Grove Memorial Park, admiring folks who accomplished 90 or more consecutive birthdays. Most of these people were born near 1900. For white women born in the United States in 1900, life expectancy was 51 years. Nonagenarians exceeded expectations by at least 39 years, or 76 percent. For women born in 2000, life expectancy has bulged to 80 years. If the extra-hearty of the 2000 generation also has a 76 percent lifespan expansion, they will live over 140 years. Are such positive lifespans possible? Maybe.

Worldwide, 22 people have lived 115 years or longer (not counting Methuselah and other Bible entries). These 22 records were all set since 1986. Spruce Grove mirrors those statistics. Cassie Gann established the Kasilof record in 2000 at 99 years and Esther Lauritzen Rodgers placed a strong second with 97 years in 2006. Ninety-six was accomplished thrice, including Bertha Stryker who bucked our trend by notching her statistic in 1965.

Clarence Edward “Ed” LeDoux III (1906-97) came to Anchorage from New York with his wife, Florence or “Florrie,” about 1948. He was a civil service worker employed at Fort Richardson. In the 1950s he homesteaded in Cohoe but continued working in Anchorage. Of significance for local history were their children, Francis “Frannie” and Clarence “Chick.” Frannie married Gordon “Sammy” Hermansen in 1951. Their children are Laura and Martin. Chick married Juliana “Babe” Nau about 1948. They had five girls and a boy (Eddy) but split up in 1961. Babe and the kids went back to New York until 1966, when she married Alfred Hermansen, Sammy’s brother. This union brought her and the children to Cohoe, a place they had often visited. Babe and Alfred had “Meezie” and “Skip” together.

Florrie died and Ed married Edith “Edie” Russell of Clam Gulch in 1976. The Ed and Edie marriage didn’t survive its first solar orbit, but Edie is important. Her local offspring from a previous marriage include Jim Russell, Ron Russell, Neva Osmar and Neva’s son Tim Osmar. They have been local pioneers, fishermen or dog mushers. Ed is one of only five men to qualify for our 90s Club.

Another is Andrew “Andy” Robert Roby Sr. (1914-2005). He was born in Dallas and joined the Navy during World War II. Sometime near 1941 he married Rose Lee Robinson. After the war he became a steam-fitter and worked construction in many areas, including Sitka in 1959-60. He came to Kenai in the early 1970s and worked on the Colliers plant (now Agrium). Rose joined him several months later. Eventually Andy built a house on West Poppy Lane. He retired in 1979. Rose passed away about 1987 and was buried at Spruce Grove.

Andy was a longtime member of his union and also very active in the Kenai-Soldotna Shrine Club. The Shriners are a branch of the Masons and are well known for their children’s hospitals, of which about 20 are scattered in the United States and Canada, and one in Mexico. Andy and Rose have three children, of which Dan lives in Soldotna.

This column was provided by Brent Johnson with the Kasilof Historical Society.

Sources: Babe Hermansen ; Jaci LeDoux; Anita LeDoux; Edith Russell; Dan Roby;, Wikomedia Foundation;, Life Expectancy by Age, 18502004 Pearson Education 2000-07.

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