Happy birthday wishes arrived by letter from President Joe and First Lady Jill Biden, as well as from Gov. Jay Inslee and his wife Trudi, with their congratulations. Generations of family and friends, old and new, gathered Sept. 9 at the Key Peninsula Civic Center for a party honoring a newly minted centenarian.
“To tell you the truth I didn’t recognize half the people in the room,” Bea Johnson said. But she had a wonderful time despite feeling a little shy being the center of so much attention.
Johnson moved from her home in Polson, Montana, to the KP to be near family after the death of her husband Bob in 2013. The couple raised their four children in south Kitsap County. Her granddaughter Dori and her family built an extension to their Vaughn home with an apartment for “Gram.”
It was no secret how Bob and Bea first met, at least not after her 100th birthday party, where daughter Becky read from her father’s 1946 diary:
“Laid around all day. Couldn’t decide what to do tonight but finally decided to go to Pearl’s (a Bremerton dance hall). Hitchhiked and got there early. Only had one short drink but had a good time. Met a girl named Bea, who’s a nurse at Roosevelt Hospital (a naval hospital in Bremerton built during WWII). Made a date to meet her next week but suppose I’ll get some damned detail (at work, and he did).”
Two weeks later Bob wrote: “Worked until about 1230 today, cleaned up and left for home. Got to the dance about 2100 and went to the hospital for Bea and then back to the dance. Went up to Bea’s after the dance and stayed there until about 0600, but we weren’t alone, darn it.”
Bea said being a widow wasn’t easy but she eventually got used to it. “We had a good time. I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else.”
For the last 10 years, she’s been meeting other seniors for lunch and cards at the civic center on Thursdays at noon. She’s a devoted pinochle player. She said she doesn’t win often, with a wink, but when she does it’s memorable.
“Come join us,” she said. “If you don’t know how, we’ll teach you.”
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