From traveling by horse and buggy to cars and then to airplanes, Evelyn Jones has seen a lot of changes in her life. The Fairwinds-Brittany Park retirement home resident recently celebrated her 106th birthday on July 11.
She was born Evelyn Charlotte Jolly to Floyd and Nell Jolly in 1907 in the small farming community of Leahy in central Washington west of Banks Lake.
Jones’ father was a wheat farmer, so they moved around central and eastern Washington quite a bit, settling long enough near Brewster where she graduated from high school in about 1925.
She was a female athlete, too, playing for the girls basketball team.
“I was very adventurous as a child. I rode horses all the time,” said Jones as she sat in her tidy apartment at Brittany Park, accompanied by her daughter Kay Vea, who helped her answer some of my questions.
Not content to be just a wheat farmer’s daughter, Jones considered herself a bit of trendsetter.
She was an excellent seamstress, so when she saw pictures in magazines of the latest fashions, she was able to make patterns and sew herself clothing much more fashionable than what the locals considered proper.
“She was considered scandalous for the times because she was the first girl to wear pants and shorts when house dresses were the norm,” said her daughter, Kay.
After high school, Jones attended Cheney Normal School, which is now Eastern Washington University. She was only able to attend one year of college.
She remembers the first presidential election she voted in was in 1928. The two candidates were Republican Herbert Hoover and Democrat Al Smith.
“My father was furious that Hoover won,” she remembered, “so I must have voted for Al Smith.”
One of Jones’ many passions was her love for dancing. She would attend the dances every Saturday night at the local community hall. It was at one of those dances that she met Stanley Jones, who would become her husband in 1928.
They raised their family of two daughters, Donna and Kay, on a wheat and beef ranch outside of Almira, Wash., east of Banks Lake. The ranch had been in her husband’s family since his father had emigrated from Wales and homesteaded on the land that became the ranch.
“I would get up at 5 a.m., make breakfast for my husband so he could go to work, and then help my girls get ready for school,” said Jones as she described what life was like living on the ranch.
She made almost all of the family’s clothing, and became an expert quilter, making dozens of handmade quilts through her life until a few years ago when her fingers just couldn’t handle the hand sewing anymore.
When World War II hit, and there was a shortage of manual laborers to help on the ranch, Jones learned how to drive the wheat trucks during harvest time.
She also rode out on a horse with her husband to help drive the cattle when it was time to move them. “But no roping!” exclaimed Jones. She didn’t learn how to rope a cow.
When her husband retired in 1966, the couple moved to a home in the small town of Almira. Jones’ daughter Donna Cochran and her family took over the day-to-day operations of the ranch.
Now Jones’ grandson, Jeff Cochran, is the fourth generation of family to run the ranch.
Jones and her husband were married for 55 years before he passed away in 1983. They went dancing almost every Saturday night throughout their entire marriage.
“‘In the Mood’ by Glenn Miller was our favorite song,” said Jones, her eyes beaming with the memory.
After Stanley died, Jones continued to live in their home until she finally moved to Brittany Park in Woodinville at the age of 98.
Until that time came, she enjoyed traveling all over the world and wintering in warmer climates.
Like any reporter who has the opportunity to interview a person fortunate to live past 100, I asked Jones what she thought was the reason why she’s lived so long.
“To tell you the truth, I haven’t a clue!” she said.
She says she ate lots of beef and vegetables, exercised a lot because she was always a tomboy, and she only drank alcohol at the Saturday dances.
Today, she tries to avoid sugar. Her dad lived to be 95 years old, her mom until she was 89, and she had an uncle that lived to 104.
At 106, Jones can still walk around fine with the help of a rolling walker. She still makes her own breakfast and lunch, but has dinner made for her.
She was a prolific bread maker until about a year ago.
“She must have made 10 million whole wheat yeast rolls in her lifetime,” her daughter Kay said. It’s a recipe that the family has made sure will be passed down to younger generations.
The younger generations include her two daughters, six grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren.
To keep her mind sharp, she does crossword puzzles every day and reads. She also loves the television shows “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy.” However, she refused to ever learn how to use a computer.
What she really loves, though, are the Mariners, Seahawks and the Washington State Cougars. Some of the Brittany Park staff make sure to talk about the Cougars with her after every winning football game.
Jones doesn’t know if she’s the oldest resident in Woodinville, but she is the oldest at Brittany Park. She finally welcomed another resident to the 100+ Club this year.