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Celebrating 300 Years in the Time of Their Lives

One likes to tell off-color jokes. Another was told he had 10 days to live--70 years ago--and the third says good humor helped her reach her 100th birthday.

Three residents of the Huntington Terrace retirement home celebrated their centennials Wednesday, sharing cake and sparkling white wine with about 90 fellow residents, family members and employees.

“It’s wonderful--this only happens once in a lifetime,” said Marion Harvey, who will be 100 on March 13.

Born in a log cabin in Cardiff, Colo., she eventually moved to Portland, Ore., where she worked as a custodian, ran an elevator, took in washing and even cleaned one employer’s false teeth.

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“I’ve worked hard ever since I was 13 years old,” she said.

And 27-year-old Angel Hermes, one of her eight great-grandchildren, said Harvey has had a few medical problems but uses no medication.

“She takes her vitamins and that’s it,” she said. “And she’s got a sense of humor that doesn’t stop.”

Harvey reeled off a pair of jokes, one about a man visiting a brothel and another about a busy barber.

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Ruby Rice, born Feb. 5, 1897, in Newport, Neb., also said humor has been key to her longevity.

Her 72-year-old son, John, said his mother also helped others having hard times.

She and her husband, who died in 1953, took servicemen’s wives into their home in Washington state in World War II, before the couple moved to Baldwin Park to escape the cold.

John Rice said he cannot remember his mother ever getting mad--except for the time he and his brother “set fire to the woods beside our house.” The boys were sent to their room without their toys.

When asked about reaching 100, Rice said, “It doesn’t bother me at all. Just keep on going.”

Rex Weller will turn 100 on July 25. He worked as an automotive electrician in Long Beach for 34 years before retiring in 1962, said his son, Ron Weller, 74, of Tustin.

In the 1920s, the family left their farm in Kent, Iowa, and headed west in a loaded-down Studebaker, recalled the younger Weller. They went south to San Diego, where it was raining, so they turned back and settled in Long Beach. Weller lived there with his wife of 73 years, Jeanette, who died in 1992.

As a boy, the elder Weller rode his pony, Sam, to school every day in Iowa. But a neck injury from when the horse threw him turned serious when Weller was 30, and a doctor gave him 10 days to live.

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But Weller, smiling at the memory, said physical therapy from an acquaintance helped him turn 10 days into 70 years and counting.


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