Issaquah resident celebrates 100th birthday, and counting

August 23, 2011

By Tom Corrigan

Asked how it feels to be 100 years old, Issaquah’s Paul Emile Beaudry doesn’t answer right away.

Paul Beaudry (left) celebrates his 100th birthday Aug. 15 with daughter-in-law Dianne Beaudry and son Richard Beaudry in the dining room of the Spiritwood Assisted Living facility. By Tom Corrigan

“He always says, ‘It beats the alternative,’” said son Richard Beaudry, a retired attorney and in his 70s himself.

At that, Paul grins.

“I don’t feel any different,” he said, sitting in the community dining room of the Spiritwood Assisted Living facility, where he passed the century mark Aug. 15.

“I’ve come a long way, but I feel the same,” Paul added.

As his son tells the story, Paul was born on the kitchen table of the family home on 51st Street and Woodlawn Avenue North in Seattle. The third child of Frank and Blanche Beaudry, he and his brother and sister all went to Lincoln High School.

It was there that Paul met Doris, the woman who would become his wife of 60 years. During their early courtship, they had only one problem and that was that a home phone didn’t really fit into the Beaudry family budget.

Or maybe it wasn’t really a problem after all.

According to Richard, his dad used to climb up on his family’s garage, then crawl up the guide wires to where the telephone hookup was, connect the wires, and then crawl back down and call Doris. He then would make his way back up and disconnect the wires so the phone company never got wise.

As Richard talked, Paul again flashed a big smile.

Not long after graduating from high school, Paul and Doris were married and quickly bought a small house on Phinney Avenue in North Seattle. Richard said his father hated interest payments, so he managed to pay off his first

mortgage in four years. Paul and Doris had a daughter, Janet, but lost her to appendicitis at age 3. Doctors told her not to try, but Doris was determined to be a mom again, eventually having both Richard and his older sister, Judith Anne Arnold.

As it happens, Paul turned out to be pretty good with wiring and engineering overall, not just with phone lines. According to Richard, the Great Depression interrupted his father’s plans to attend the University of Washington to major in electrical engineering. Instead, Paul ended up working with electrical systems at the Todd Shipyards in Seattle. He remembers going into the yards the day after Pearl Harbor, determined to help make a difference by getting new Navy ships built as fast as possible.

After the war, Paul owned and ran a couple of car lots, being part owner of Grady Schwab Autos in Ballard. He was in the car business for about 10 years. He then went back into engineering, working for the ship-building arm of Lockheed Martin. Eventually, Paul worked for Seattle Electric. Even after he retired, Richard said his father was constantly fixing things for his family and neighbors.

“He could take anything apart and put it back together again,” said Dianne Beaudry, Richard’s wife.

Doris died in 1992, but Paul lived alone into well into his 90s, moving to Spiritwood just two years ago. Dianne tells a quick story of how Paul, just a few years back, tried to paint his house using a scaffold.

According to Richard, Paul had one other major interest beside wires and fixing anything that needed fixing. Starting with one piece of Puget Power stock, Richard said his father built a large financial portfolio, one he still manages today. Richard said Paul even made it through the so-called Great Recession without too many problems.

Paul has two children, seven grandchildren, more than 20 great-grandchildren and, as of six months ago, one great-great-grandchild. He said he has no idea how long he’ll be around.

“We’ll see what happens,” he said.

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