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Oldest Known Studebaker Employee Turns 100

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  • Oldest Known Studebaker Employee Turns 100

    [b](Forwarded by Jeff Rice)

    June 28. 2006 6:59AM

    Resident reaches century mark
    Oldest known former Studebaker worker now a centenarian.

    Tribune Staff Writer

    SOUTH BEND -- J. Everett "Hank" Henry was born two years after the Studebaker Corp. sold its first gasoline-powered car, and remembers when Charles Lindbergh made his 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic and when man first stepped on the moon in 1969.

    He has lived through two world wars, Prohibition, the Depression, the Kennedy assassination, the Cold War, the civil rights movement and Sept. 11.

    In retirement, the lifelong St. Joseph County resident keeps busy.

    "You wonder when you had the time to work," says Henry, who turns 100 years old today.

    Henry worked for the Studebaker Corp. for 47 years, from 1924 to 1971. He's believed to be the oldest living former Studebaker worker.

    He still lives on his own, cooks and does most of his own household chores. He drives to the grocery store, although he limits his driving to daytime hours.

    "I do all my own laundry and my own sweeping. I'm an independent cuss," Henry says.

    He likes to bake. Apple dumplings are his specialty.

    The retiree has a sharp mind and a good sense of humor.

    Henry jokingly attributes his longevity to four factors: "Clean living, hard work, daily prayer and going easy on the hard work," he says.

    He exercises a bit each morning but doesn't follow any special diet.

    "I aim to cook a balanced meal," says Henry, describing himself as a meat and potatoes man. "I don't bother much with desserts."

    Henry used to smoke a pipe, but he gave that up more than a decade ago. He never smoked cigarettes.

    "I never got drunk in my life, although I like a glass of wine now and then," he says.

    Today he's going to breakfast with relatives. On Saturday, there will be a celebration for him with 250 guests, including 65 relatives.

    Henry has two children, eight grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and 10 great-great grandchildren.

    Later this year, Henry will be going on a cruise in Alaska with his son, George, 75, of North Liberty. Henry has traveled through most of the United States, but this will be his first trip to Alaska.

    Henry's daughter, Catherine Box, 77, lives in South Bend.

    Henry was born in Walkerton in 1906, toward the end of the horse-and-buggy days. His father was a rural delivery mail carrier, and the family raised cows, hogs and other livestock.

    Henry remembers his first automobile ride, in the rumble seat of an open roadster when he was a few years old. He learned to drive at age 12 in his father's Model T Ford.

    He recalls as a child riding a steam train from Walkerton to South Bend to shop at Wyman's and other downtown department stores, as well as to watch parades. Later there was a diesel train, nicknamed "The Doodle Bug," that ran between the two communities.

    He remembers the armistice at the end of World War I. Walkerton residents shot off guns when they heard the news of peace. "You couldn't step on the streets without stepping on shotgun shells," he recalls.

    As a teen, Henry worked before and after school as a delivery boy for a Walkerton grocery store and later a bakery. He attended school in Walkerton, playing on the high school baseball team and graduating in a class of 17 students in 1924.

    "A couple of the teachers weren't worth a nickel, but they were much stricter than they are today," he says. Henry recalls that boys were expected to wear a tie, sweater or vest, and jacket to class every day.

    He dated one girl all through high school. "I was supposed to marry her, according to the gossip in town," he says.

    Later he met his future wife, Irene, on a blind date in South Bend. The two married in 1928.

    Henry remembers the day he was hired at Studebaker: Aug. 25, 1924. He started as a crib tender, checking out tools to plant workers. H

  • #2
    I think we all owe Henry some thanks. I can only hope to be that spry when and if I reach 70.
    "All attempts to 'rise above the issue' are simply an excuse to avoid it profitably." --Dick Gregory

    Brad Johnson, SDC since 1975, ASC since 1990
    Pine Grove Mills, Pa.
    sigpic'33 Rockne 10, '51 Commander Starlight, '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée"


    • #3
      Thanks a lot for this neat story. This guy's life had a lot of similarities to my father's life. My father was born in 1902. His first car was a Model T. My father bought a new Buick LeSabre in 1988. His last car was a Chevrolet Corsica that I picked for him. My father still drove until he was 101. He lived on his own until he was 102. He also liked to cook, most things from scratch, with his specialties being stew and pea soup. My parents flew over DC in an open plane on their honeymoon in 1929. My father met three US Presidents - Teddy R., Taft and FDR (who he cooked for). My father passed away this year and his mind was sharp up until the end.

      Many more women than men make it to 100 in the USA. The over 100 group is the fastest growing segment of the population in the US (by percentage gain). It is hard to imagine what these men have lived through. Some of us think that we have lived through a lot, but imagine these guys that experienced the beginnings of flight, normal cars, radio, television, telephones in homes, central heat, indoor plumbing, etc., etc.

      Gary L.
      1954 Commander Starliner (restomod)
      1959 DeLuxe pickup (restomod)
      Gary L.
      Wappinger, NY

      SDC member since 1968
      Studebaker enthusiast much longer


      • #4
        quote:I can only hope to be that spry when and if I reach 70.
        Ya gotta be kidding... I'm not that spry @ 59!

        Dave Lester


        • #5
          quote:Originally posted by Studedude

          quote:I can only hope to be that spry when and if I reach 70.
          Ya gotta be kidding... I'm not that spry @ 59!
          Maybe not, Dave, but I bet you are "an independent cuss".

          [img=left][/img=left] - DilloCrafter

          1955 1/2 Ton Pickup
          The Red-Headed Amazon

          Paul Simpson

          1955 1/2 Ton Pickup
          The Red-Headed Amazon
          Deep in the heart of Texas


          • #6
            GREAT story!!


            • #7
              Hope some folks nearby will drive their Studebakers to the celebration for him to enjoy, ride in and even drive!


              • #8
                What a terrific story. Thanks for posting, Jeff.


                • #9
                  I truly hope so! That would be special indeed!
                  As an unrelated side note...
                  I traveled quite a distance to suprise my mother on her 80th birthday.
                  My sister had an 'open house' at my mothers for friends and neighbors.
                  It was truly a special event for her....and for me.
                  I got a chance to visit with people I had not seen in 40 years...
                  Just the look on mom's face made it worth the trip.

                  Hat's off to Hank!

                  quote:Originally posted by 56H-Y6

                  Hope some folks nearby will drive their Studebakers to the celebration for him to enjoy, ride in and even drive!
                  HTIH (Hope The Info Helps)


                  Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain

                  Note: SDC# 070190 (and earlier...)