Olympia resident Evelyn Wallis turns 100 years old on Saturday, surrounded by a family that keeps her spirits high on the journey toward 101.
“At the present time,” she said, “I think I just might make it.”
Wallis was born Nov. 22, 1914, in Sherman County, Oregon, where her father ran a wheat farm. For the past 16 years, Wallis has been living with her daughter and only child, Lynne Hummel, in Olympia. She spent most of her life in Fresno, Calif., where she worked as a bookkeeper until retiring at age 74.
In Olympia, Wallis has made many new friends at Westminster Presbyterian Church, but is most grateful to have many family members living nearby. She has two grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren — a blessing that makes life even richer.
“It feels very special,” she said. “I’m one lucky lady.”
In August, Hummel organized a 100th birthday party and dinner for Wallis. She has a lot of admiration for her mother, who raised Hummel as a single parent.
“There weren’t a lot of single moms that worked outside the home,” Hummel said.
Wallis was a divorcee who suddenly became a breadwinner andrelied on her own mother to help during that time. “It just had to be,” she recalled. Today, Wallis is glad to be in good hands with her daughter, who helps with her nutrition and exercise needs.
“She takes very good care of me,” Wallis said.
In reflecting on significant historical events, Wallis said there have been too many wars that “solve nothing.”
“The first World War was in progress when I was born,” she said. “We have had all these ugly wars since then.”
Wallace also praised the leadership of President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression in the 1930s. She recalled her father bickering with her aunt over supporting Roosevelt at the time.
“What he did was innovative and it worked,” she said, referring to Roosevelt’s programs such as the New Deal. “He got people jobs.”
Over the course of her lifetime, Wallis said the most mind-blowing invention has been the cellphone and its subsequent evolution into an everyday tool.
“One time, a friend said, ‘I think they’re going to be born with them hanging out of their ears,’” Wallis said, laughing about the ubiquity of cellphones in today’s world. “The changes in phones have been amazing.”