June 2020 Brattleborough Reformer
Warren Patrick has survived two pandemics, two world wars and the Great Depression. The former town clerk and treasurer of Jamaica turned 109 years old last week.
"Although Dad does not think as much globally now, he is certainly well aware of the serious virus we are experiencing as it affects him such as wearing masks, distancing from others, eating in his room versus the dining room and the lack of visitors," his daughter Sally Wadsworth said in an email. "He asks often, 'When will this end?' Perhaps he has this perspective since he experienced the pandemic of 1918 and saw life did get back to normal after.” Patrick's family was not directly affected by the Spanish flu in 1918 but he recalls many people dying during that time.
Warren Patrick celebrates his 109th birthday
A parade for his birthday started at Valley Cares in Townshend and featured classic cars, signs, American flags and colorful balloons. Residents of the assisted facility sat outside, keeping a safe distance apart to keep in public safety guidelines associated with the coronavirus pandemic, and ate cupcakes. Local musicians Alan Bills and Jim Knapp played "Happy Birthday.” "This is great and a great day for it," Patrick remarked during the celebration. Born June 13, 1911 in Springfield, Mass., a year before the Titanic sunk, he often says 13 is his lucky number. He has called Valley Cares home for nearly 13 years; he was one of the first residents to move in when the facility opened in 2007. He is known there for "strong determination, sense of humour and longevity," Wadsworth said. Asked how it feels to be the second oldest Vermonter, Patrick said, "I do not take my age for granted. I feel greatly blessed and thank the Lord every day."
In terms of historical moments, Wadsworth said her father talks most often about the Great Depression following the stock market crash in 1929. He graduated from high school that year.
"He remembers friends who had previously been chauffeured to school who after the crash began standing in bread lines," Wadsworth said. "His large family lived in a very small house and he and his brother slept on the porch, sometimes under a buffalo robe."
Patrick's advice for living a long life is: "Keep moving." He likes to joke by adding, "No drugs, no alcohol, no women, no fun.” Patrick recently went through rehabilitation at Grace Cottage Hospital for five weeks after a fall. His family members were not able to visit him at the time but they called him on the phone. Those conversations were challenging due to his hearing loss, Wadsworth said. Through the hospital, the family also arranged video chats. "He found the technology quite amazing," Wadsworth said of FaceTime. She called the birthday parade "perfect" because it allowed family members to visit at a distance, and friends could wave and use signs to wish him happy birthday.