Naomi Frisbie marks 100th birthday

Naomi Frisbie celebrates her 100th birthday at the Hood River Aquatic Center.

There’s a lot of celebrating to be had when you hit a milestone birthday. Just ask Hood River’s Naomi Frisbie, who turned 100 on July 9.

Frisbie attended water aerobics at the Hood River Aquatic Center on her birthday — she’s been going to classes for more than 30 years — and was honored with a cake, as well as gifts that included a new swimsuit, swim bag and towels.

That evening, there was a small gathering of relatives who came into town for a family birthday party, which took place the next day. Dethman and her sister Marge Byrne held an open house in Frisbie’s honor, with people coming in from all of the western states. Her three grandsons and their wives, from Munich, Germany, San Francisco and Bingen, were also in attendance.

But that wasn’t the end of the celebrations. As a longtime member, the Odell Garden Club had a birthday cake during a meeting, and the Hood River County Fair honored her as well — and had two cakes, one for Frisbie’s 100th birthday, and one for the fair’s 100th anniversary.

Frisbie was born July 9, 1921, in Ashton, Idaho, and graduated from Ashton High in 1939. She attended the University of Idaho, in Moscow, for two years on a 4-H scholarship.

“I was the third child in college,” she said. “My folks had quite a time keeping us all there.”

But, as there weren’t enough teachers during the World War II years, she quit school to teach part time; she later graduated from Oregon State with a degree in home economics. It’s also where she met her husband, Harold, a chemical engineer major.

The two were married in 1947 at Frisbie’s home in Idaho, having graduated from college the year before. Harold’s work took them to Portland and then to the Bay Area — and then back to Portland and again to the Bay Area. But retirement brought the couple to Hood River, where Harold grew up.

Though her major was home economics, she taught kindergarten after she was married.

“The principal said she had the best qualifications, so she was the kindergarten teacher,” said Dethman. Then the couple began raising their family, with Frisbie working as a substitute teacher after their children — Dethman and Byrne, as well as brother Norman, who passed away five years ago — began middle school.

Frisbie has been active in the Odell Garden Club and the American Association of University Women, as well as a book club. She said her longevity is due to genetics — her mother lived to be 97 and an uncle 106 — but Dethman added that part of it is also clean living.

“Exercise has been a big part, to keep mentally alert and physically in shape,” she said.