This photo of Lorraine Osbourn, her husband Fred and a grandchild was taken in the early 1960s in California.

This photo of Lorraine Osbourn, her husband Fred and a grandchild was taken in the early 1960s in California.

Still dancing: Juneau resident turns 100 years old, honored at birthday party by governor

One hundred years ago, the cost of a stamp was $0.02, the average price of an American house was $5,000 and less than 10 percent of homes had a telephone. World War I was in progress, Woodrow Wilson was reelected president and the National Park service was formed.

1916 is also the year Lorraine Osbourn was born, on May 31 in Stilwell, Oklahoma.

“My mother was a housewife. My father worked days at the railroad,” she said on Friday during an interview at her daughter’s home in North Douglas, where she’s lived for four years.

Her family moved to California when she was a young girl and she attended Bell High School in Bell, California. It’s where she met Fred Osbourn, the man who’d be her husband for 72 years.

Osbourn said Fred first asked her on a date when she was in 10th grade. It was the time of Big Band and swing dancing. The two went to the ballroom and danced “every Friday night,” Osbourn said. She’d wear a fancy dress and gloves; he’d wear a suit.

Lorraine and Fred Osbourn got married in 1936. She said that was the happiest time of her life. The couple raised two children in California — Art Osbourn born in 1936 and Susanne Reiswig born in 1938.

Reiswig remembers growing up and hearing stories of her parents dancing to the Glenn Miller Orchestra and Tommy Dorsey.

“They loved dancing and sometimes they danced in the house,” Reiswig said.

Unfortunately, the dancing didn’t last. Fred studied at Pacific Union College for theology in the mid-1940s and became a Seventh-day Adventist pastor, Reiswig said. Osbourn said being a pastor’s wife was “not fun.” The couple could no longer dance and “everybody knows your business.” Fred eventually went back to school and got a doctorate in marriage and family counseling.

Fred died in 2009 at the age of 94. Osbourn moved to Juneau four years ago to live with her daughter.

On Tuesday, she celebrated her 100th birthday at The Bridge Adult Day Program, run by Catholic Community Service.

Surrounded by Bridge staff and participants, family members, Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, and invited guests from the Juneau Police Department and the Alaska Commission on Aging, Osbourn sat wearing a crown and a smile as everyone sang her happy birthday. The celebration included music by members of the Thunder Mountain Big Band, dancing, food and cake.

Walker presented Osbourn with a State of Alaska Commendation for being an Alaska centenarian.

“Happy birthday, young lady,” Gov. Walker said when he met Osbourn Tuesday afternoon at the party. “We got a few things going on today but I said, ‘No, no, I want to come and meet this lady.’ I want to say happy birthday to you.”

“Baloney,” said Osbourn.

This is the same “spitfire attitude” that Osbourn has exhibited at the Bridge for the past few years, said activity coordinator Devon West. Before recently falling, Osbourn had been attending the Bridge five days a week.

“Lorraine is such a firecracker here,” West said. “She danced, she’d do the hokey pokey, she always had a joke and a smile on her face.”

West had been planning Osbourn’s 100-year birthday celebration since she turned 99. She said it’s a way to honor Osbourn and the impact she’s made on Bridge staff members and other participants.

“She’s always been here to perk us up. We don’t know what she might come at us with each day, but it always keeps (the staff) laughing, always keeps a smile on everyone’s face,” West said.

Osbourn is one of 83 centenarians in Alaska, according to the Commission on Aging. Five live in Juneau. The total number is up from 2010 when there were only 40 people aged 100 or older. Currently, the oldest person in the state is Fern Elam, 105, in Kenai.

In Osbourn’s 100 years of living, she said, “I learned to be a good woman, to love my husband and to love my children.”

While many are impressed with Osbourn’s age, the milestone isn’t one she necessarily wanted to reach.

“Who wants to be 100?” she said. “That’s too damn old.”

• Contact reporter Lisa Phu at 523-2246 or lisa.phu@juneauempire.com.

Related stories:

Juneau’s Rosie Hermes hits the big 100

Celebrating 101 years: Tlingit elder Walter Soboleff’s wishlist

Attitude is everything to hardworking Juneau grandmother, 80

Lorraine Osbourn receives a birthday greeting from Alaska Gov. Bill Walker on Tuesday during a celebration at The Bridge Adult Day Program run by Catholic Community Service.

Lorraine Osbourn receives a birthday greeting from Alaska Gov. Bill Walker on Tuesday during a celebration at The Bridge Adult Day Program run by Catholic Community Service.

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