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Oceanside senior celebrates her 100th birthday with style

OCEANSIDE — Preparations began early to make it a birthday to remember. A 20-foot-long banquet table was set for tea, 100 candles were lit on the birthday cake, and Bernice “Bee” Grush was seated in the high back “king’s chair” to celebrate her 100th birthday with family and friends on Nov. 1.
As part of the good humor and tradition of celebrating centennial birthdays at Fairwinds Ivey Ranch assisted living community, firefighters were on hand due to the large number of candles on the cake and Mayor Jim Wood awarded Bee a plaque for her life accomplishments.
Grush is the fourth resident currently living at Fairwinds Ivey Ranch to reach 100 years of age. She joins Edna Salhus, 100; Agnes Mckee, 102; and Ruth Seltzer, 103.
“They are inspiring,” Denise Sarram, program supervisor at Fairwinds Ivey Ranch, said. “I hope I’m going to be like them. Bee is classy, Agnes will try anything, and Ruth is a spitfire.”
The women lived lives of impact as wives, mothers and career women.
Grush was born in Washington state. She came out to California after high school graduation to visit a friend and never left.
“I liked the people and the climate,” Grush said.
Grush married her husband Jerry Grush, an early computer engineer, and they had three children, Diane, Doug and Cindy.
“I never had a career,” Grush said. “I had three children, that’s a job.”
Grush said she taught her children to always be curious about life and learn everything they can. She said her children taught her patience and selflessness.
“I’m still learning,” Grush said.
Salhus was born in Georgia and moved with her parents and five siblings to California when she was 8 years old for her father’s job with the railroad.
She married twice, never had children, and had a 31-year career as a Social Security Administration worker.
Salhus said she never thought it was unusual to be a woman with a career, but does see the change of more women in the workplace over the years.
McKee grew up in the countryside of Indiana with her parents and four sisters.
She studied business in college. Her career as a business secretary took her to Indianapolis, Cleveland and Arizona.
Due to business policies at the time McKee was denied the opportunity to become an insurance agent, so she made the most of her position as a secretary taking on the responsibilities of coordinating area offices and writing the company policy handbook.
“I was passed over several times as a woman,” McKee said. “Now women can be anything they want.”
McKee married at age 32. She and her husband Harry Mckee have a daughter, Jane, who lives in Fallbrook. They moved to Oceanside to be closer to their daughter. Harry passed away three years ago.
McKee said most people live their first 100 years to make someone else happy, be it parents, teachers, employers or children. She added that she plans to live her next 100 years to make herself happy.
“Now I think about me,” McKee said.
She is in the process of writing her memoirs.
Seltzer was born in Connecticut and raised by her parents in New York. She is the youngest of seven siblings.
After Seltzer attended and graduated from nurses training she drove across country to California with two girlfriends who were fellow graduates. When they reached California they applied and were hired as nurses at the French Hospital.
Her two friends left California shortly after, but Seltzer stayed. She met and married her husband Harold Seltzer. They had a daughter Carol. Both Harold and Carol have passed away.
Seltzer worked as a nurse until she was 62 years old. Her daughter also had a career as a nurse.
“Whatever else I’ll be I have no idea,” Seltzer said. “I have good health. I don’t use a walker or cane and I try to be pleasant.”


Bj Ross March 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Bee and my Mother Pauline Baker were best friends, Bee came to see my mom at Las Villas Health Care in Escondido often and the day before my moms demise.
Bee visited our family when we lived in Rancho Penasquitos when our children were small and continued to visit when they were teenagers. I continue to send Bee Christmas card pictures of our family. I haven’t seen Bee for 12 years but I know she knows I think about her often and love her like family.
Happy 100th Birthday Bee. we love you, Bj, Brad, Tyler and Eric Ross (currently of Escondido)

promise_news November 9, 2011 at 10:10 pm

It was really a pleasure to interview the ladies who were over 100 years old, spunky and fun.

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