Lifestyle

Federal Way birthday girl celebrates 104 years of life and laughter

Byrdie Schoewe marked 104 years of life on Aug. 26. - Andy Hobbs/The Mirror
Byrdie Schoewe marked 104 years of life on Aug. 26.
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/The Mirror

Byrdie Schoewe marked 104 years of life on Aug. 26. She attributes her longevity to good air, a good diet, a good outlook and a good start.

"As long as I can still walk, I figure I got it made," she said.

Karen Sartell of Sumner embellished on her grandmother's knack for joking.

"Never lose your sense of humor is what she tells us," Sartell said Wednesday at a pre-birthday celebration. "She's always been fun."

Schoewe (pronounced "shavey") has resided in Emeritus at Federal Way, a care facility, for the past six years. Born in 1906, she is the sixth of 13 children and the last one living. Schoewe's 10 sisters and two brothers all lived well into their 80s and 90s, with one sister reaching 100.

The family grew up on a sheep farm in Pilot Rock, Ore., living for years without electricity or indoor plumbing. The installation of a light bulb, hanging by a single cord in her family's dining room, impressed her as much as the upcoming invention of television.

Schoewe was named "Byrdie" after her Byrd family ancestors. In the mid-1800s, the Byrd family built and operated a sawmill in Steilacoom, one of the first in the region.

In 1976, she settled in Federal Way with her husband of 62 years, Karl, who died in 1987. She worked as a homemaker and also manned weather stations for air mail delivery, Sartell said. Schoewe has two children, four grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.

Did Schoewe ever think she'd reach 104?

"Never gave it a thought," she said. "That's why I made it."

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