Sitting in her wheelchair at the back of Fairfield Care nursing home, 105-year-old Willean Lindstrom can almost see her family’s farm. Just over the crest of the farthest wheat-covered hill, she raised three children and nursed two of them through polio.
Fairfield, a town of about 600, was where she started her business, met her husband and spent most of her adulthood. She said she grew up just 15 miles west in Spangle, and has spent her entire life in Spokane County.
“I was born here,” she said, “I just belong here.”
Lindstrom, who celebrates her 105th birthday today, came to Fairfield to start her business, Tip Top Beauty Shop. Four or five years into running the store, she met a farmer named Howard who was driving through town. She said he invited her to go fishing, they went dancing at the Grange Hall in Fairfield, shot at squirrels and eventually were married.
They started their family toward the end of the Great Depression, producing most of the food they ate on the farm, which is still owned by the family.
Rod Lindstrom, Willean Lindstrom’s second child, remembered his mother making him and his siblings sit next to her in a farm truck while she helped with the harvest. After working alongside the crews all day, she would make everyone dinner, all while watching out for the three of them. He said his mother also kept a close eye on them when his siblings contracted polio.
He said she kept them home at first, but his siblings were eventually taken to a hospital in Spokane. He recalled watching his parents handle the illness together. Both of his siblings recovered, he said, but it was a difficult time for the family, especially his mother.
“It was like death to her,” he said.
Rod Lindstrom said his father died about 25 years ago and his mother was the last surviving sibling in her family. He said his father and Willean’s family had lived in Spokane County for several generations and Willean’s mother lived in the Fairfield nursing home many years ago.
He credits his mother’s longevity to vitamins. He remembers her starting to take them in her 40’s, and said she’s been extremely healthy her whole life. Outside of a stroke about a year ago, she’s always been in excellent health, he said.
Willean said Fairfield and Spokane County have always been her home. She said her favorite thing about the area, and why she’s loved it so long, are the people she’s gotten to know over the years.
“I love everybody,” she said. “So that makes it easy to like where I live.”
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