Touchmark resident Louise Jose recently celebrated her 100th birthday. She is the first person in independent living at Touchmark in the West Hills to reach this momentous milestone since 2019. Please enjoy learning about Louise’s extraordinary life thus far in her own words.
I was born on July 10, 1923, in Spring Groves, Virginia. My family included two older brothers, my father (an auto mechanic), and my mother (a schoolteacher). I was raised near my father’s relatives until age 15 when the family moved to Hopewell. This was a great move because my father could work only five days a week and thus be home more.
At that time, girls didn’t do much with sports, but I did play center in basketball. I liked any kind of history, especially U.S. history. I also liked literature. Now, I like to read biographies and history. Recently, I read Jon Meacham’s book about President Lincoln—“And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle.” After high school, I went to business school in Richmond and became a secretary to a corporate lawyer in Hopewell.
Building a Family Across the U.S.
At the beginning of WWII, I met my husband-to-be—Brenden Thomas (Tom) Jose—at a dance. Two months later, we were engaged. He was sent overseas for three years. During the war, we wrote letters. When he had six weeks of leave, we got married on July 2, 1945. We spent our honeymoon in Virginia Beach and New York State. Tom then had to report to Fort Cheatham in Georgia. We stayed in Chattanooga, Tennessee, until the war ended.
Tom was from Challis, Idaho, and was discharged from Fort Douglas in Utah. We stayed in Challis until early 1946. Before the war, Tom had worked on Grand Coulee Dam and returned to the Dam after the war. We lived near the Grand Coulee Dam and moved back and forth between there and Ephrata, Washington.
We moved to Washington, D.C. in approximately 1951. Our first daughter was born in November 1946; our second was born in 1954 in Alexandria, Virginia. During this time, the St. Lawrence Seaway was built jointly by Canada and the U.S., so ships from the Atlantic could get to the Great Lakes. Tom was transferred to the Massena, New York Headquarters of the U.S. Seaway after its completion. Its dedication was held in Montreal, Canada by Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, and President Eisenhower. Tom was promoted to Assistant Administrator and maintained this position until his retirement.
Retirement & Travel
After my husband retired, he liked North Carolina as a retirement destination. We traveled a lot—to European countries, Australia, and New Zealand, to name a few.
We followed our girls west. Our older daughter started teaching in Yakima, Washington. Our youngest daughter started college in New York but headed west and graduated from the University of Portland, so we returned to Ephrata. In Washington, Tom started to show symptoms of Alzheimer’s, so we moved to Vancouver, Washington, in 2000 to be closer to our girls. We lived in Fairway Village, just across from Touchmark there. Tom and I loved golf, and we played at the Fairway Village Golf Club. I used to play bridge with some ladies who lived at Touchmark at Fairway Village. I also belonged to a PEO chapter there and still belong to that one in Vancouver. I belonged to garden clubs and the auxiliary hospital.
One of our daughters lives in Beaverton, and the other lives at Neskowin on the coast. She’s a nurse practitioner and her home has a music studio and a nice view. It’s so sad to see someone with Alzheimer’s decline—it’s so gradual. Tom died in 2005.
I moved to independent living at Touchmark in the West Hills in 2019. My grandson-inlaw took me one day to check it out, and I selected this home that very day. I’m on the fifth floor, and I love my view of the valley and Coast Range! And I’m close to the dining room and elevators, which is nice.
Lightning Round: Getting to Know Louise
Fashion: I haven’t been much into fashion. I made all my girls’ clothes.
Technology: The computer—all of that is beyond me! I do use email. When I grew up, we didn’t have electricity, phones, radio, or anything like that. We played games. I built myself a playhouse in the woods and climbed trees. I was the youngest and the only girl; I had to learn to ride a boy’s bike.
Plastics: Everything we had was paper. It’s horrible what plastic is doing to the environment. So sad!
Notable moments in history: When Tom and I were playing golf, we had a friend who was retired from the Air Force; he saw the Wright brothers. Also, listening to my grandparents. They were born in the 1850s, and it was interesting to talk with them.
Climate: We’ve got to take care of trees! My daughter at the coast is passionate about taking care of our planet. I’m very much concerned about the future of our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. We have to take care of our planet better! Guns and shootings: Every day there’s a killing. I don’t know why we have to have assault guns. With hunting, you don’t use assault weapons. I’m opposed to all of these awful guns.
Top three happiest times:
- The childhood I had
- My husband
- My children
Louise at Touchmark:
I love people and hugs—I’m a hugger. I don’t like disagreements. I’ve met some of the nicest people here—really interesting people! You couldn’t have a better place to live: It’s the nicest place I could have found. The trips they have are great! (I wish I could do more of them, but I can’t anymore.) The team at Touchmark—everyone knows your name here. I don’t know how they do it!
Happy Birthday to you, Louise! Thank you for sharing your story, allowing us a glimpse into an earlier time. It is fascinating to reflect upon how much things have changed as well as how the important things—family, friends, and community—stay the same.