In the December Fountain: Rachael Calvert celebrates 100 years
By Jocelyn Stott
Rachael Calvert sits in the cozy dining room at Guardian Angel retirement community, daintily eating her breakfast of scrambled eggs with toast. Neatly dressed and attractive, with a gracious presence, her nails manicured and lipstick applied, she considers her morning meal.
"I look forward to breakfast," she says.
Bacon and eggs are her favorite. As Calvert turns 100, she struggles to remember the details of the past century. Tapping the top of her head occasionally, she says, "C'mon head, let's talk!"
When asked how she feels about turning 100, she says, shaking her head, "I don't think I even know it yet - that's OLD."
One thing that is very clear in Calvert's head, however, is the names of those she loves. Her sister, Lucille Parsons, her son Jeff and husband Chester roll off her tongue with ease, and her eyes light up at their mention.
Lucille and Chester have both died in recent years, but several family members still live in the area. Jeff and his wife, Lois, live in Sacramento.
Calvert and her older sister of nearly two years, Lucille Reschke, were best friends growing up in Saskatchewan, Canada.
"We did everything together," Calvert remembers.
Calvert's birth certificate says her name was Reil and her sister was Emalia. While still in high school, the family moved to Wenatchee, where the girls finished high school. According to the family story, when Reil and Emalia stood in front of the judge in Wenatchee to receive United States citizenship, he decided their names should be Rachael and Lucille. So it was.
While in her early 20s, Calvert left Wenatchee with a friend to go to Southern California.
"I didn't really like the snow," she says.
She met Chester Calvert when he was working on his family's ranch. They married in 1936 and enjoyed 62 years together until Chester's death in 1998.
"He was wonderful, no one better. He was just born wonderful," she said of her husband. "We were married forever!"
Chester Calvert worked as a federal meat inspector and later consulted with meatpacking houses until the family retired and moved to Liberty Lake.
The Calverts adopted a son, Jeff, in Hollywood.
"He's my love. Although I don't have him often," she says.
Jeff has spent most of his life in Sacramento, but he says he calls his mother each day and he cherishes the time they talk.
"She has such a great outlook," Jeff says.
Behind a chair in her room at Guardian Angel in Liberty Lake, Calvert keeps nearly 100 of Jeff's medals won in swimming contests as a child.
"She was always there, cheering for me," Jeff says.
As her son grew, Calvert and a friend opened a clothing boutique in Encino, Calif., called The Pink House of Designing Women. The pink-painted shop in a remodeled bungalow featured high-end clothing the pair purchased from the waterfront garment areas nearby. "She was very much into fashion and style," remembers Jeff.
Calvert wore blue jeans and red tennis shoes to her birthday party Nov. 22 at Guardian Angel because Jeff told her she looked youthful. The festivities were attended by several friends and family members who had gathered to honor her. Several bouquets of pink and white roses filled her room, and greeting cards and packages wrapped in pink were stacked about.
Jeff isn't surprised his mother has lived to 100, citing her healthy lifestyle. She is very active, she walked all the time when she was younger - even if she had to be indoors. Calvert has always eaten healthy and has a positive outlook.
"She is very intelligent," Jeff says. "When her eyesight was better, she'd read and watch all kinds of sports. She loved to analyze tennis matches."