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Still the life of the party at 105

Even at the age of 105, Babe Gow isn’t the oldest living member of her family. That distinction is held by her brother, Larry Matthews. At 110, he is currently the oldest living man in the United States.

Born in Oakland on Aug. 22, 1911, she was the seventh of nine children. Her given name is Clairbel, but you’ll get ‘the look’ if you call her that – she prefers to go by the name ‘Babe’.finishing_well_in_life_babe

Babe married Andrew Gow, now deceased, in the early 1930s. They moved to Red Bluff in 1944. Having the opportunity to go into business, they opened “Andy Gow’s Donut Kitchen”.  Every morning the delightful scent of the doughnuts cooking drew folks in from nearby business – it was common for the line to reach down the block.

Later, they became the managers of the “Tremont Hotel” on Main Street. It was told that they never turned anyone away. During the busy rodeo season, even if they were completely booked, Babe was known to allow out-of-town cowboys to find a corner to get some much-needed sleep.

Babe’s managerial abilities were also put to good use as the manager of the Hope Chest on Grant Street – a position she held for many years.  Never one to sit still, she was also the secretary of the Auction Yard. If that wasn’t enough, she spent some time working in Rasco’s Variety Store and Sprouse Ritz on Walnut Street as well as selling Avon and Home Interiors.

Babe loved to be on the go. A full blooded Portuguese, she was pleased to have the opportunity to travel to Portugal for a trip of a lifetime with her family after the death of her husband.

In spite of her busy schedule, Babe always found time for her two favorite sports; Bowling and Golf. She was on a bowling league for several decades, and continued to play golf well into her late 80s. Ever spry, she was still climbing up on the house at the age of 90, but hiding her ladder put a stop to that.

Loving people is a skill that comes naturally to Babe, and she shines the brightest when she is with her family – especially the babies. Anytime the little ones arrive at Brookdale to visit, her whole face lights up. Babe’s speech is becoming limited, but her ability to communicate is still quite strong.

Andrew and Babe’s three daughters still live in Northern California, as do many of her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.

A party was held a few weeks ago to mark Babe’s 105th birthday. One of the cards on display said, “Happy Birthday to one hot Babe”. At the age of 105, she’s still the life of the party.



Has your world been touched by dementia? My recent book, “Finishing Well: Finding Joy in the Journey”, is a collection of stories and  tips finishingwellinlife3Dcoverabout doing life with my Mama. May it encourage and inspire you to find the joy in your own, unique journey.

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