Emeritus resident takes pride in century mark
by Sam Matthews
Aug 03, 2012 | 3602 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mildred Stephens, born in McMinnville, Ore., on July 27, 1912, has been a Tracy resident for 17 years, including the past six years at Emeritus at Heritage Place. Sam Matthews/Tracy Press
Mildred Stephens, born in McMinnville, Ore., on July 27, 1912, has been a Tracy resident for 17 years, including the past six years at Emeritus at Heritage Place. Sam Matthews/Tracy Press
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“I’m still perkin’,” Mildred Stephens said last week with a sense of pride while seated in her apartment at Emeritus at Heritage Place.

She had reason to be proud; she reached her 100th birthday on Friday, July 27.

“There’s no recipe for making it to 100,” she added. “Just get up every day and get going.”

A native of McMinnville, Ore., southwest of Portland, she has lived in Tracy for the past 17 years.

Born July 27, 1912, she rode a horse to school in McMinnville but later became “a city girl” in Portland.

She was the oldest of four girls who was in charge of raising her three sisters while their mother worked as a cook.

In 1933, she married Roy Stephens, who was operating a small trucking company specializing in hauling industrial supplies for foundries in the Portland area.

“My husband ran the trucks and I answered the phone in our home, talking to customers and drivers,” she said. “I guess you would call me the dispatcher.”

When World War II came along, the foundry business expanded in Portland, and so did the trucking firm.

“It was a really busy time for us; they were building liberty ships in Portland, and everything was going full blast,” she recalled. “We also did a lot of work with firms building the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River.”

The couple operated the trucking firm into the 1970s, and Roy Stephens died in 1987. In 1995, Mildred Stephens moved to Tracy to live with her daughter and son-in-law, Judy and Frank Cameron.

“It didn’t take my mother long to become active at the Lolly Hansen Senior Center and start making friends,” Judy Cameron said. “That’s the way she’s been all her life.”

For the past six years, she has been a resident of Emeritus at Heritage Place senior living community on Grant Line Road. Again, she has remained active, although slowed down somewhat after entering hospice care 17 months ago.

Thursday, she was feted at a 100th birthday party at Heritage, complete with a visit from “Elvis.”

In addition to Judy Cameron, Stephens has another daughter, Sharon Stephens of Lake Stevens, Wash., and four grandchildren.
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