By Mary O’Keefe
A great celebration a century in the making occurred on Saturday afternoon. Long time La Crescenta resident Bill Bowman turned 100. The champagne was flowing as friends and family all toasted the centenarian.
“A toast to 100 years: a great husband, a great father, a great grandfather and a great, great grandfather,” toasted Bill’s son Chris at his father’s birthday celebration.
A call was made for Bill to toast his guests.
“It is great to realize we can all be here of different political parties, different religious groups, even vegetarians. We are all friendly, we are not biting one another in the back and we’re not shooting at each other,” Bill said.
His guests laughed along with him and raised their glasses high.
Bowman was born in Los Angeles but moved to Glendale then to La Crescenta after he married his wife of 68 years, Norma.
“I was working at Metropolitan Life Insurance in 1941 in Glendale. Bill was working at the Bank of America. The bank had a lot of good looking men, I chose the best one,” Norma recalled.
His two sons, Ross an engineer with a recycling firm and Chris a conductor with the Santa Ynez Valley Master Chorale, and their families were on hand to celebrate.
After the last bit of cake was eaten and the champagne bottles were emptied, the Bowmans reflected on their long and happy life together. Norma at age 89 is still active. She cleaned her home and got it back in order after the party.
“We aren’t used to having parties,” she said.
Bill reminisced about how Montrose and La Crescenta had changed over the years. He had owned the Richfield Service Station on the corner of Ocean View Boulevard and Honolulu Avenue. He remembered the flood of 1934 although his home was not affected, and talked of the freeway cutting through the area. He had also remembered living through about five fires in Crescenta Valley.
When asked about the highlights over the past century he immediately said, “The day I got married of course.”
The birth of his sons, grandchildren and great grandchildren were added to those memories.
“And when Uncle Sam got me,” he joked.
He served in Alaska for three and a half years during World War II.
Bill never smoked cigarettes, but does enjoy a pipe every now and then. Both he and his wife attribute their health and longevity to walking. For years they belonged to a walking group called “Footloose.” Members met throughout Southern California to take walking tours of the local area.
“My wife keeps me on vegetables and salads. We don’t eat too many hamburgers or steaks anymore,” Bill said. “It doesn’t feel like I’m 100. Today doesn’t feel any different then yesterday or the day before,” he said.