Ellis Meacham celebrated his 100th birthday May 5 among 100 balloons and serenading family, friends and fellow residents at The Bedford in Vancouver.
Meacham was born in North Dakota and was raised on his family’s Iowa farm until the death of his mother when he was 6 years old and the arrival of the Great Depression. He and his two older brothers were placed in an Odd Fellows home; he said living there was the happiest time in his life. Two younger twin siblings were fostered out to a family. When the older boys reached working age, they were adopted as foster children and placed with another farming family.
All the siblings made their way eventually to the Portland/Vancouver area like so many others, to find work related to the Kaiser shipyards. Meacham found work as a machinist and transitioned to a career as a union representative with Local 63 and the Grand Lodge for the machinists union in Seattle. His work took him all up and down the West Coast. He retired as assistant to the vice president of the International Machinists Union in the early 1980s, with 1,200 people in attendance including dignitaries such as former Oregon Gov. Wayne Morse.
Meacham enjoyed fishing at the mouth of the Columbia for salmon and, a snowbird, he had a place in Palm Springs where he enjoyed golfing. At age 80, he shot an 80.
Meacham says one thing that may contribute to his longevity is that although he has been known to get angry, he never holds a grudge.
Widowed four times, Meacham has four children, three stepchildren and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He has resided at The Bedford since 2008.