‘Oldest man in Chester’ to celebrate 104th on the Green

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2022 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Mowrey at home with his ever present pipe. He says he took up the pipe at age 10. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

When Bernard Mowrey was born, Woodrow Wilson was president of the United States, the end of World War I was still six months away and the flu pandemic, which would kill tens of millions worldwide, was just getting under way.

Next week he’ll celebrate his 104th birthday with friends and well-wishers on the Chester Green. He calls himself “The oldest man in Chester.”

Mowrey was born on May 9, 1918,  in the suburbs of Philadelphia, the city worst hit by the flu pandemic. Within a few years, his parents had moved the family to a farm in Jamaica. Bernie Mowrey grew up a farm kid with memories of walking out into the pastures to bring the herd home at night, milking 12 to 15 cows and all the hard work farming entails. The farm is still there on Mowrey Road.

Mowrey went off to World War II, but never saw action because, on the way to shipping out to the Pacific Theater, he was seriously injured when the truck carrying troops crashed. The driver of the truck, which was taking soldiers who had just completed advanced infantry training, was in a hurry and ended up tipping the canvas-topped vehicle over. Mowrey, with his face torn open and jaw broken, and another soldier had to dig with their hands to unhook the tailgate of the rolled-over truck.

After months in the hospital having his face reconstructed, Mowrey returned to Vermont, working as a garage mechanic, then spent many years operating heavy equipment including working on the construction of I-91 and driving a bulldozer at a talc mine north of Rutland.

“There isn’t a piece of heavy equipment I can’t operate,” Mowrey told a visitor last week.

He also outlined his three secrets to a long life: Hard work, good food and good women. Mowrey helped raise six of his own children and four stepchildren in three marriages.

Today, Mowrey lives in Chester with his daughter Carol Harris, two dogs and two beloved ponies.

Roy Spaulding – whose father was a friend of Mowrey  – thought it would be a good idea for the town to wish Mowrey a happy birthday and has arranged for the centenarian to greet friends and well wishers at the gazebo on the Chester Green at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 14.

Spaulding told The Telegraph that there will be a dropbox for cards and people can make “drive-by” well wishes. He expects the event to go on for an hour or so.

 

 

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  1. Ernie Plumb says:

    Happy Birthday! Have a wonderful celebration.

  2. Chere Tournet says:

    Happy, happy birthday! Jason was a good friend of our sons as was Judy was a friend! May you be celebrated as you deserve! Chere and Artie Tournet.

  3. Joshua Carlisle says:

    Happy Birthday to you hope its a beautiful day and you have many more hope to see you soon in person fond memories of coming up to popple dungeon to see you and family.

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