A century old and still laughing | Freeland resident celebrates milestone birthday

Freeland resident Harold Robinett is about to join a select group of people in this world. This weekend, he will become a centenarian.

Harold Robinett holds up a photo showing three generations of his family. In the photo are his parents

Freeland resident Harold Robinett is about to join a select group of people in this world. This weekend, he will become a centenarian.

Born in Oregon in 1914, Robinett has lived a full life, from joining the Navy to finding love twice, all while making unforgettable treats along the way.

Robinett will turn 100 this Sunday, April 6. A community celebration will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 5, at Clinton Community Hall.

Robinett, who now lives in Maple Ridge in Freeland, is an active man who exercises every morning and avoids coffee and alcoholic drinks. He even drove and tended to his home in Maxwelton up until last year, at age 99.

That never surprised his daughter-in-law, Debbie Daumen, who often keeps Robinett’s mantra in mind.

“ ‘A body in motion stays in motion,’ he always told us that,” she said.

Robinett joined the Navy when he was barely 17 years old and wore the uniform for the next 20 years. He served aboard the USS Chicago during World War II in the Pacific Ocean theater. The ship made several stops in the Pacific while heading to Australia.

“It was a nice, big ship,” he remembered. “I was doing what was necessary to get home.”

Luckily, Robinett was sent back to the base before the cruiser was sunk by Japanese torpedoes in 1943.

“A guy told me to ‘pack it up, start doing something different,’ ” he recalled.

Robinett moved to Whidbey Island in the early 1950s while still in the Navy, later staying on the base working as a firefighter until his retirement.

With his wife Sally, the Robinetts adopted four children — Delores, Patsy, Mary Sue and Martin — from Japan in the 1950s to start their own family.

For Martin Robinett, his father was a tough man who taught his children to be hard workers.

“He’s stern. A good husband, good father — quite stern,” Martin recalls. “He meant what he said, and when he said something, we listened.”

Martin, who lives in Coupeville, said he is looking forward to being with his father and meeting his friends to share memories in the upcoming celebration.

“It’s hard to believe that dad’s going to be 100,” he said. “You don’t meet too many people who are going to be 100.”

One of Martin’s favorite memories with his father was fishing at Bush Point when he was about 12 years old.

“I caught more fish than he did,” Martin said enthusiastically, recalling that he caught five humpies that day, two more than his father. “I didn’t think I was going to catch anything.”

Robinett was also an avid golfer, taking his clubs wherever he went.

After Sally’s passing, Robinett married his second wife Geanie, who had three children of her own. Together they traveled the country and Canada in a new venture selling homemade caramels and syrup called Grandma’s Old Fashioned Caramels.

Martin still remembers the delicious taste of the treats, which he still keeps in his freezer.

“It’s delicious on ice cream,” he said.

The couple visited many fairs and festivals dressed in old Victorian-style attire to sell the sweets.

“It was always the family treat,” Robinett said.

Robinett credits his longevity to a daily dose of oatmeal, his homemade lemon-honey-vinegar juice and, until recently, frequent golfing.

Robinett golfed with a group on Whidbey for 18 years and said he always walked the course, even when his teammates rode the golf cart.

“It’s pretty amazing, he’s as healthy as can be,” Daumen said.

He also said a lot of laughter keeps his spirits up.

“We’re always keeping each other laughing,” she said.

Daumen told Robinett she always knew he would make it to be at least 100.

“How did you know I could make it that far?,” he asked Daumen.

“Because I believe in you,” she said.

 

More in Life

Annual street dance, live bands set for Saturday

Langley’s new annual dancing-in-the-street summertime tradition is back for the third year,… Continue reading

New public art debuts in Langley

Steel and glass shape pieces chosen by arts commission

Denis Zimmermann and his wife, Cheryl, run Langley’s new ramen restaurant, Ultra House, which opened in May 2018. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times.
Langley restaurant owner is recreating his childhood with new ramen house

Denis Zimmer-mann said he’s not re-inventing the wheel with his ramen restaurant… Continue reading

Shakespeare Festival plays emotional range

Female directors, perspective at the forefront

A 1941 Graham Hollywood, owned by Roy Deaver of Clinton, was chosen as Best of Show in the Cool Bayview Nights car show Saturday.
Rain doesn’t dampen the fun at Cool Bayview Nights car show

Attendees selected the mildly modified and rebuilt 1941 Graham Hollywood, owned by… Continue reading

Congolese Festival is a chance to celebrate, educate

Last event before Northwest Cultural Center relocates

Mucking about for clams

‘Digging for Dinner’ a popular Sound Water activity

Scorch is a play about gender identification showing at Outcast’s black box theater on the Island County fairgrounds June 13-17. It’s a one-person play, performed by Carmen Berkeley. Director and co-producer Ty Molbak went to middle school in Langley was was active in Whidbey Children’s Theater. Both will be seniors at Rutgers University in the fall. One scene in the play “Scorch” portrays the main character looking into mirrors and wondering what others see.
‘Scorch’ looks at first love and ‘gender fraud’

Irish play revolves around one character’s confusion

Whidbey Island Garden Tour highlights five homes

Tickets still available for Saturday event

Jordan Shelley, 18, stands outside his home in Greenbank. He recently received the Sydney S. McIntyre Jr Scholarship from Skagit Valley College to go toward his tuition at the University of Washington. Shelley will pursue his childhood dream of becoming a doctor. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News Group
SVC grad earns full 2-year scholarship to UW

A lot has changed since Jordan Shelley was 7 years old and… Continue reading

Expanding knowledge

Whidbey Institute adds more lodging, plans open house

Shhh…it’s a surprise party for old-timer Bill Lanning

Friends, customers invited to celebrate former owner of Bill’s Feed Tack