Harbour Pointe Retirement resident celebrates her 105th birthday

By Sara Bruestle | May 22, 2013
Photo by: Sara Bruestle Connie Hurley, of Mukilteo, blows out the candles on her birthday cake at her party at Harbour Pointe Retirement. She turned 105 on May 16. Next to Hurley is her granddaughter Holly Martin.

If you met Connie Hurley, you’d probably guess that she couldn’t be any more than 85 years old – but you’d be 20 years off.

Though she doesn’t look or act like it, Hurley, of Mukilteo, turned 105 on May 16.

Hurley celebrated her 105th birthday at Harbour Pointe Retirement on Thursday with about 30 friends and family. She blew out three candles on her cake this year – with the numbers 1-0-5.

“I feel great, really,” Hurley said. “If I didn’t know I was 105, I wouldn’t believe it. Because I do feel good.”

Hurley was born in Billings, Mont., on May 16, 1908 – the same year Henry Ford produced the first Model T.

She spent much of her childhood on a homestead in Winnett, Mont., where she got around by covered wagon or horse and buggy before her family bought a Ford.

“I remember one of our neighbors were the first ones to buy a car,” she said. “He would take us for rides in the ‘Tin Lizzie.’ Oh, that was exciting.”

Her father was an architect and carpenter, and when his job took him to Olympia to work on the capitol building, the family of seven decided to move to Tacoma. Construction on the building started in 1912.

In Tacoma, Hurley graduated from Stadium High School and then studied shorthand and typing – “the usual thing” – at Knapps Business College. She got a job as a secretary right out of college.

In her 20s, Hurley moved to Bingham Canyon, Utah, where she met her future husband, Jerry Hurley, now deceased, who was a miner and, later, a bookkeeper.

“I was working in a restaurant, and he came in and had a meal,” she said.

They were married in 1935. Their only daughter, Patricia, was born two years later – on May 16, Connie’s birthday.

Hurley worked as a waitress for the restaurant inside the Florence Hotel in Missoula, Mont. Waiting on tables there, she met and chatted with Eleanor Roosevelt and the von Trapp family from “The Sound of Music,” who were staying at the hotel.

“It was the whole family – even the grandfather was there,” she said of the Trapp Family Singers. “They were so friendly, and one of the gals my age stayed up and we ‘girl talked’ a little.”

Husband and wife moved to Salmon, Idaho, in 1943. Connie Hurley worked as a waitress at Sterms Café and later as a cashier at McPherson’s Dry Goods, which is still open today.

When Jerry passed away, Connie decided to move back to Tacoma to live with her mother and sister. She worked as a cashier and bookkeeper at the Ford dealership Mallon Motors until she retired in 1972.

“People trusted me with money,” she said.

Hurley is the proud owner of a 1972 Ford Maverick, which now sits in front of her granddaughter Holly Martin’s house with only 48,000 miles on it. Hurley has fond memories of driving the car, which she considers a “great invention.”

Before her family had a car, “we were about 2 miles apart from friends, and we’d walk or we had the horse, but there were five of us kids for one horse, so you can imagine how that was there was some confrontations about whose turn it was to take the horse,” she said.

She now lives at the Harbour Pointe Residential Retirement & Assisted Living Center. She is the first resident there to celebrate 105 years.

The staff had lots of surprises for Hurley on her birthday. She had her hair and nails done for the party and got to wear a tiara. She was presented with a proclamation from the mayor and a Smucker’s jar with her photo on it.

“It was so great,” Hurley said. “I was just so overwhelmed and delighted.”

Hurley switched from joyful smiles to tears of gratitude and back again as she heard speeches and was read letters from friends, family and staff wishing her a happy birthday – and many more.

Bob Mallon, who owned Mallon Motors and was Hurley’s boss, wrote in a letter: “Congratulations to you on your 105th birthday, and may God continue to bless you with longevity.”

What’s her secret to longevity? There must be something in the water: She drinks several cups of hot water and tea every day.

“God only knows,” said Hurley, of why she’s lived so long. “I’ve been careful with what I eat, I stay active, and I drink lots of hot water and tea.”

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