Area woman celebrates a milestone

  • By Alexis Bacharach Enterprise editor
  • Friday, January 25, 2008 2:56pm

June DeLamater paused over lunch and stared at her children, both in their sixties.

The secret to a long life, she began, is to keep active and surround your self with good people.

“I never smoked, I never drank and I (was) never chaste,” said DeLamater, who recently celebrated her 90th birthday. “I raised three kids, and I loved being a parent. My children were my most precious possessions.”

She’s considered mother hen at the retirement community she calls home in south Everett. Staff and residents stop by often just to give her hug.

“She’s always willing to give you a hand,” DeLamater’s daughter, Ruth McCasland said. “That’s just the way she is. People love her because they know she’ll do anything for them.”

No one would have predicted that DeLamater — who battled polio as a girl — would grow up to lead a full, productive life. Her mother died when she was 13, and DeLamater spent the rest of her childhood bouncing back and forth between a handful of relatives in Seattle. She was neglected and abused by nearly every adult in her life.

“I didn’t have a very happy childhood,” she said. “The last 60 years were certainly better than the first 30.”

Happy times for DeLamater began with her husband, David.

He struck her as a pest at first, asking her to dances and other functions.

DeLamater felt the invitations were inappropriate as David was keeping company with another girl.

“She was always giving him candy and chewing gum. I didn’t know she was his cousin,” DeLamater said, laughing. “I always wondered, ‘Why are you bothering me? You already have a girlfriend.’”

They went out on a couple of dates and called quits.

DeLamater’s aunt disapproved of the relationship.

“She didn’t like the way he dressed and she didn’t think his family had enough money,” DeLamater said. “Of course nobody had any money in 1940, but he went his way and I went my way.”

No one else ever caught her interest.

She went on one date — a set-up with a friend of a friend.

The man seemed nice enough until he drove her to a cemetery “pulled out a bottle of whiskey and started getting fresh.”

“I jumped out of the car and ran for the bus stop,” she said. “That was it. No more dates. I wasn’t going out on any more dates with men I didn’t know.”

It wasn’t long after the disastrous blind date that David phoned in a marriage proposal

The couple remained in the Seattle area.

David worked as a brakeman on for the railway, and DeLamater kept home.

“It was a different city back then,” DeLamater said. “You had to ride the ferry to visit Kirkland because there wasn’t any bridge and lots of people got along without cars.”

Milk at that time cost .05 cents a gallon and gas cost about the same.

“I can’t be certain about fuel prices,” DeLamater said. “I didn’t have a driver’s license for the longest time, because my aunt said I was too high strung to operate a vehicle.”

She never gave it much thought until her husband drove home one day in “an ugly, green Nash.”

“I asked what I was supposed to do with it and he told me if I wanted it moved I’d better get in the car and learn and how to drive it,” she said. “So, I learned how to drive. It was a giant hearse of car.”

DeLamater adjusted her glasses and lay her hands in her lap.

At 90 years old, she’s outlived her husband and many dear friends,

“I’ve said goodbye to so many,” she said. “I guess it makes you appreciate the people that are with you even more.”

DeLamater takes no relationship for granted, writing letters several times a week to keep in touch with friends and family.

She says it relaxes her and keeps her brain fresh and active.

“That’s important,” she said. “I have three grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. As long as I can keep track of them all … those are things that matter.”

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