Cathryn Walling and Family gather for her 101 year birthday celebration.
Hard work, a great sense of humor and a loving family seem to be the key ingredients to living a long and inspirational life, at least that’s the case for Cathryn Walling who celebrated her 101 birthday last Friday with friends and family at the Lake Stevens Senior Center.
Walling was born on July 12, 1908 in St. Paul, Neb. Her mother was a concert pianist and her father was a pharmacist and talented musician. They moved to the Pacific Northwest during the great Depression.
While living in Bremerton, Wash. Walling met her husband Paul at a dance and they were married on Dec. 1, 1940.
Walling and her husband lived in Sunnyside, Washington where she raised their three sons, William (Bill), Rocky and Robert (Bob). She moved to Lake Stevens in 1978 after Paul died to be closer to her son Bill.
She soon became active in the community and became one of the founders of the Lake Stevens Senior Center.
“Cathryn was one of the first people to get the Senior Center started,” Senior President Joyce Bell said. “She is still as sharp as a tack and everybody just loves her.”
Walling credits her sharp mind to her love of reading. Newspapers are her favorite source of information and she reads several a day from cover-to-cover, “as many as she can get her hands on.” The Journal is one of her favorites.
Her family says her longevity is due, in part, to her love of life and her great sense of humor.
“She knows how to have fun,” grandson Michael Walling said. “She was the one who taught me how to ride down the stairs on a bed mattress when I was five or six years old.”
Walling’s son Bob tells the story of coming home one night to see his son sliding down the stairs on a mattress. He asked him if Grandma was asleep and young Michael said, “No, she’s next!” Right after that, Cathryn flew by him on a mattress.
Her love of music has been the center of her life since she was a child and her talent, it seems, has been passed on to Michael who plays drums, piano and keyboard.
“When I think about Grandma, I think about her musical talent and her gift of crafting and wonder why I didn’t inherit either of them,” granddaughter Samantha Ross said.
Walling can pick up an instrument and learn to play it within 15 minutes.
“I think it has an awful lot to do with keeping her mind active,” Ross added.
Her family is her most cherished treasure though and it is obvious to those watching, how much they respect and love each other.
“Codfish gravy and mashed potatoes was Cathryn’s favorite thing to eat,” daughter-in-law Miriam Walling said. “It brought the family together, it was a family ritual.”
Walling continues to be an inspiration to friends with her quick wit and fascinating life story.
“I love her and really enjoy visiting with her,” Karen Alessi, a friend of Walling’s said. “She is a very interesting person.”
At last year’s Evergreen State Fair 100th Anniversary, centenarians throughout the State of Washington gathered together to celebrate their hundred years of life. Walling was among the 24 invited to the event. The centenarians broke the last Guinness Book record of 23 centenarians to be gathered in one place.