~by Lora Koch, The Scranton Journal
1915 marked the second year of World War I, the first coast-to-coast long distance telephone call, the production of the one millionth Ford Model T, and the birth of lifelong Greene County resident Horace Hedges. He is celebrating his 100th birthday this month.
Born on January 25, 1915, Hedges was raised on the family farm west of Scranton that was acquired when the Hedges family first came to Iowa from Germany in the 1880s. He and his wife Juliette (Manor)attended Scranton schools and met at a church party. After they married in 1937, they raised three daughters on the farm. Joy now lives in Boone, Karen in Fort Dodge, and Jo Anne in Annapolis, MD. Juliette passed away about 14 years ago from cancer.
Hedges’ secret to a long life? “Pick your ancestors! Even though my dad was only 65 when he died of cancer, my mother lived to 91,” said Hedges. “I have many relatives who lived into their 90s.” This includes his brother Howard, who lived to age 91 and was also a Greene County farmer. His sister died tragically in an accident when she was a student at Simpson College.
He also attributes his longevity to a life on the farm. “In farming, you are your own boss and don’t have the stress of working with other people. I really enjoyed farming, and am still interested in it,” said Hedges. “You are watching something grow, you are making your own plans.”
His friendly and peaceful demeanor reflects a life well-lived. “I’ve always enjoyed living. When you get to be 100, think of all the things you got to do that others never got to enjoy.”
He points to a framed sign in his long-term care room at Greene County Medical Center that says, Attitude of Gratitude – What Are You Thankful for Today? “I thought this was wonderful, I show it to everyone. It’s my advice for living,” shared Hedges.
Looking back over the years, he reflected on farm progress. “When I was first farming, we did not have tractors, we used horses. I was 20 years old before we got our first used tractor,” said Hedges. “Back then, raising your first 100 bushels of corn was a big deal. Now, 100 bushels would be a crop failure, you wouldn’t even harvest it. And now tractors have GPS, never would have thought of it.”
He shared a favorite innovation from over the years, “I remember the radio coming out, and the neighbors coming over to hear the Shenandoah station. We listened to fiddling contests, and whatever,” said Hedges.
One of the people he respected most was a favorite uncle. “I had an old Great Uncle Ira. We shared the same yard and he was a lot like a granddad to me. One time when I was at school, he stopped by at recess in his Overland car and asked if I wanted to go with him. He even let me drive. He was very special to me. I could talk to him.”
Hedges is a man who does not have many regrets – which is not surprising with his positive attitude about life. He was glad for all the trips he took with his family. “We have been to every state in the United States, and to other countries – Philippines, Argentina, Brazil, Africa, and Europe. The kids even traveled along once. Jo Anne was about 3 years old.”
What does turning 100 years old mean to him? “I’m grateful. It’s a gift! I’ve enjoyed my life. You need to be thankful for all the things others did not get.” He then read a quote printed in The News Gazette / Scranton Journal by Clarence E. Hodges, noting the similarity between the names Hodges and Hedges. “For today and its blessings, I owe the world an attitude of gratitude,” read Hedges.
He then added, “It’s a wonderful thing, an attitude of gratitude.”
Editor’s note: The family is holding a card shower in honor of his 100th birthday. Cards may be mailed to Horace Hedges, Greene County Medical Center, LTC #263, 1000 W. Lincoln Way, Jefferson, IA 50129.