Monday, June 13, 2011

Nonagenarian Surfer

(Title and photos shamelessly "borrowed" from blogger Wilma Scott)

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His name is William (Willy) Baker and on Saturday he turned 97. He may be the country's oldest blogger--and he's been at it since 1999. He may also be the oldest person on Facebook. We may never know.

I met him a year ago, when fellow blogger, Wilma Scott, from Ontario, Canada, came to California to help Willy celebrate his 96th birthday. Wilma and I had stayed in touch through e-mail, blogs, and more recently Facebook (don't ever play Lexulous with her...she always wins!) and when she came to California, her first visit to this state, I offered to give her my Grand Tour of San Francisco.

We made that tour a year ago and one of the perks of having made those arrangements was that I got to meet Willy when I picked Wilma up and dropped her off again after our day in San Francisco.

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This year we decided to just stay at Willy's house and have lunch there, which would give me the opportunity to visit with him as well. What a delightful afternoon.

His birthday party had been on Saturday and his gift from Wilma was a book of Willy's memories, taken from his blog, which Wilma had collected and had printed and bound for his family and friend. Willy graciously gave me a copy of the nearly 500 page book and it is a fascinating read.

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The introduction to the book gives his story, very briefly.

Born June 12, 1914, married 57 years, octogenarian widower as of 3/4/1997, 4 children, 5 grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren.

Log cabin in the Arkansas Ozark mountains at Norfork 3 years, Oklahoma oilfields 16, California San Joaquin valley at Corcoran with aunt and uncle 2, CCC camps 2, San Francisco Bay area since 1936. Electronics engineer with the Lawrence Berkeley lab over 40 years (Staff Senior Scientist rank last years), inventive type, retired since 1980.

My wife was the joy of my life. Wish I had retired earlier so we could have had more fun travelling in our motor home--and visiting far-away places all over the world. We decided on a family life with 4 kids before we got married. The kids have families of their own now. A happy family life is about as close to heaven on earth as it gets.

Random reading of various bits and pieces promise a book that will be entertaining, enlightening and sad in parts, but a wonderful chronicle of a full life. His niece was there when I arrived, helping unload food from his refrigerator because a new one was being delivered today. It was delightful watching her interact with him and blatantly obvious that the two of them love each other very much. They told me about their trip to Turkey together a few years ago.

Thanks, Wilma and Willy. I had a great time and look forward to seeing you again next year!

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