Senior Spotlight: Carthage resident Donal Myers celebrates 105th birthday

May 6—CARTHAGE, Mo. — Carthage resident Donal Myers celebrated his 105th birthday at the end of March with a gathering at his home that included family, friends and even the mayor.

Myers turned 105 on March 27, and a constant stream of people stopped by to congratulate him and wish him well March 30.

"I didn't expect this many people to come to my birthday," said Myers, who was born in 1919. "I think some of them left and I didn't get to see them. I loved seeing them all, and it was unexpected to see so many."

He needs a walker to get around and is a little hard of hearing, but his mind is sharp and his memories of people he has met in his nearly 80 years in Carthage are clear.

"It has been a lot of fun, it's been wonderful," his daughter, Katherine Goettel, said of caring for her father, a longtime businessman and 2010 Maple Leaf Parade grand marshal. "I don't know what I'd do without him. He just can't believe he's lived this long. His doctor even showed up for his birthday, Dr. Jon Haffner."

His granddaughter, Kendra Clements, said she's probably one of the reasons he has lived this long.

"It was my lot in life to keep him young," Clements said. "He had to chase after me when I was growing up."

Myers said he was drafted to serve in the military in World War II, along with his older brother, Willard, but the military decided one of the two brothers needed to stay at home and help their dad on the farm near Everton.

"My folks had a big farm south of Everton, and my older brother and I, we helped dad every day," Myers said. "The government came out and said they wouldn't take both of us on account of my dad needing the help. My brother, he said, 'I'm going,' and that was that. He did everything to protect me. He was two years older. He got shot in the shoulder in the Army during the war."

Myers and his wife, Maxine, married in a time when gasoline was 11 cents a gallon and a loaf of bread, a hamburger and a bottle of pop were a dime each, not counting the nickel that was given back if the bottle was returned.

"When we got married, I worked for a poultry farm," Myers said. "It was an egg-laying operation. The guy who owned it had a big hatchery in Springfield, and the eggs all went to Springfield. There were six of us laborers and a manager. We worked from seven in the morning to five in the evening, with an hour off for lunch. We'd get our check on Saturday night — $7.50 for the week. We'd go out and gather eggs. There were two of us on Sunday morning, for 85 cents extra."

The Myers family moved to Carthage in 1944 while working for the state highway department.

They lived on Oak Street when that street was the Main Street of America — Route 66, a busy highway that ran from Chicago to Los Angeles.

"There was quite a lot of traffic on Oak Street," Myers recalled. "We lived on Oak Street for about three years, then we had a home at 1108 Olive St. It's still there and still looks pretty good."

He also sold farm equipment 25 years and had his own real estate company in Carthage for 33 years.