Make sure to wish longtime Stayton resident Bula Smith a happy birthday on Jan. 14. Make that happy 100th birthday!
Born Bula Weddle on Jan. 14, 1912, Bula had four sisters, Cleo, Marie, Gloria and Gladys, and one brother, Wendell. She married Fernando Martin Smith, known as Farmer, on May 19, 1940.
“They shared 57 wonderful years together,” said JoAnn Smith, who is married to Dean, one of the Smith’s three children. Fernando Martin Smith was 87 years old when he passed away in 1997.
Both Bula and Farmer attended Stayton High School, albeit Farmer was one year ahead of her. Bula was the star on the girls basketball team as she was so tall. She attended Oregon State University, where she studied for two years before going to work in Portland.
Bula and Farmer had three children: Dean Walter (born June 11, 1947), Paul Martin (born April 12, 1949) and Susan (born April 24, 1951). Dean Smith is married to JoAnn and lives in Lake Oswego. Paul and Mary Smith live in Boulder, Colo. And Susan is married to Tom Kuczmarski, and lives in the Chicago area. Each of the “kids” is thrilled with their mom turning 100, JoAnn said.
“We think she is an amazing woman and role model for aging gracefully with humor,” she said. “If we only could complete the morning crossword puzzle before she does!”
Stimulating her mind by finishing The Oregonian’s crossword puzzle is one of Bula’s secrets for a long life. Others include eating three healthy meals a day, staying active, and doing her daily morning sit-up routine.
“She does hers before she gets out of bed,” JoAnn said. “And she believes a person should never be bored, that there is always something you can do.”
Turning 100, Bula, who is now living in an assisted living facility in Beaverton, would rather be driving her car through Stayton than fussing over her birthday, JoAnn said.
“Several years ago, she finally stopped driving, although the state of Oregon renewed her driver’s license through 2016!” she said.
Before Bula stopped driving, JoAnn added, “You could often find her with her 97-year-old sister, who is also racing to the 100-year mark, Gladys, at local garage and estate sales, finding treasures.”
In her younger years, Bula sewed, golfed, did needle point, and always entertained.
“She loved to cook!” JoAnn said. “She started making pickles – sweet, dill and bread and butter – when she was 28 and continued well into her 90s. Each year, she made 150-200 quarts. So, in well over 60 years of pickle making, she canned and distributed at least 10,000 quarts to her friends and family. Her secret to getting the cucumbers clean and smooth was to run them through the washing machine.”
Bula’s famous pumpkin pie recipe is featured on the label of the Santiam brand of canned pumpkin, another tribute to her cooking prowess.
“She enjoyed a dinner with her husband, Farmer, and both former presidents, Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon,” JoAnn said.
In her spare time, Bula loves to read. “She is a voracious reader, especially of mystery novels like Sue Grafton,” she added. “She has read all of her ‘A through Z’ books, and is now on the latest, ‘V is for Vengeance.’ There is no mystery surrounding Bula’s reaching the 100-year mark.
“Bula loves getting together with family and friends, believing that both are the essence of living a good, long life,” JoAnn said.
Her children will host a birthday luncheon at the Tualatin Country Club at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14. Those attending are asked to bring a favorite photo or items of remembrance to share.