It takes a special breed to live on the Hi-Line. It takes an even more special breed to do so for more than 100 years.
Three such special people were honored during the 43rd Governor’s Conference on Aging in the Montana State University-Northern Student Union Building’s ballroom on Thursday afternoon.
Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch was there to meet the local centenarians, express her admiration of their experience and wisdom, and tell the audience about businesses being recognized around the state for operating for more than a century.
The real priority was the people, as indicated by the standing ovation that the three received from the room.
Laura Palm was among the honorees. She lives in Chinook and has since she was born on Indiana Street on Sept. 14, 1910.
While McCulloch shook her hand and chatted with her, the audience was told about her long life, growing up and marrying in Chinook where she taught at Meadowlark School when it was brand new.
Another honoree from Blaine County was Fred Hockhalter who has spent most of his life in the Harlem and Fort Belknap area. Hockhalter, has his 101st birthday coming up in less than a month, on Wednesday, Nov. 2.
The youngest of the honorees was Walter Romo, who will be turning 100 next month. He was born in Lakeside on Nov. 26, 1911. Later he worked on construction projects in eastern Montana, building the highway between Sidney and Glendive, the Fort Peck Dam and New Deal projects. He now lives in Saco.
McCulloch then took the stage to talk about Montana businesses she has been visiting and presenting a Centenarian Award for being registered with the state for more than 100 years, including National Laundry Company in Great Falls and the Sisters of Providence in Missoula.
But, she reminded the audience, these businesses couldn’t have reaped the benefits of 100 years of commerce with the generations of Montanans who made them possible.
“No business can survive without the community, which is why this award is about all Montanans, ” McCulloch said.