Irene Jone’s earliest memory is attending an Indian school near Porterville, Calif., sometime before the age of four. A hundred years later, she celebrated her 104th birthday with family and friends.
She was born in Atwell, Texas on Aug. 16, 1918. The family moved to California when she 1 year old. She was an only child.
After her mother passed away when Irene was young, she lived with her grandparents near Porterville. When her father remarried, the family relocated to Oregon, near Woodburn.
When she was 19, Irene married Ed Murray in 1937, who was a farmer and a carpenter. She learned the virtues of hard work on the farm with her husband. The couple was married for 61 years and had a daughter, who lives in Bend.
In 1942 the couple rented a farm at the corner of River and Chemawa Roads in downtown Keizer. Four years later they relocated to a 40-acre farm north of Keizer near Perkins Road. After her husband’s death in 1999, Irene moved to a cottage at Willamette Lutheran Retirement Community, and into the main building in 2004.
Her family extends to two grandsons, three granddaughters and one great-grandson.
A hot balloon ride above Aurora was the highlight of Irene’s birthday celebration. Family members and friends joined her for a sunrise flight. Lunches, dinners, emails and texts from well-wishers filled up the weeks before the big day.
Irene attributes her longevity to hard work and fresh air.
“I certainly didn’t expect to live this long,” she said. “I don’t feel that old. I feel like I’m in my 80s.”
She cites the number of airplanes in the sky as a big difference between the 1930s and today. “You used to see one every once in a while back then,” she said. She is not adverse to change, though. “Progress is part of life,” said Irene.
Her advice for people in their 30s and 40s is to save more money. For those in their 70s and 80s her advice is to enjoy life, take it as it is and take care of their health.
It is advice she herself has lived by as she looks forward to her 105th year.