Central City man celebrates 106th birthday
CENTRAL CITY, Neb. (AP) — 1912 was a significant year.
It was the year that the Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean. Woodrow Wilson was elected president, defeating incumbent President William Howard Taft and former President Theodore Roosevelt. New Mexico and Arizona were admitted as the 47th and 48th states. And William “Mack” McLean was born in Clarks that year.
McLean recently celebrated his 106th birthday at his home at Cottonwood Estates in Central City. It has been his home for the last two years. Prior to that, he lived independently. He said his son thought it might be a good idea to move to Cottonwood Estates.
He doesn’t like being the center of attention just because he is a centenarian. At the senior living facility where he lives, residents are allowed to make a special meal request on their birthday. But he told them to serve the regular meal just like every day.
Born on a farm, McLean has lived in Nebraska most of his life except during World War II when he worked in the defense industry in California, the Grand Island Independent reported.
Lt. Gov. Mike Foley recently made a special visit to Central City to visit with McLean and wish him a happy birthday and merry Christmas on behalf of himself, Gov. Pete Ricketts and the people of Nebraska. McLean is one of the state’s oldest individuals.
“It is a great honor to meet someone who has reached the age of 106,” Foley said. “He has lived a very good life. He worked in California for a while and came back to Nebraska. We love to hear the story of people who come back to Nebraska. Many of us are born and raised here and move off to other places, but then realize that Nebraska is a pretty darn good place and that there is no place like home.”
Foley reflected about the changes to society that McLean has lived through. When he was born, the automobile and the airplane were still in their infancy. Much of agriculture was still done with horses.
“You think of all the presidents he has lived through (19) and all the U.S. history that he personally experienced over 106 years — it is extraordinary. Just think of what technology and automobiles were like 106 years ago.”
It was 1908 when Henry Ford first began manufacturing the Model T, which revolutionized the automobile industry by making cars affordable for the masses.
“It was fun to meet him and he seems to be doing very well,” Foley said after his appearance at McLean’s birthday celebration.
When asked about having the lieutenant governor pay him a visit to wish him a happy 106th birthday, McLean said in his modest way, “I don’t know about that. It is OK, I guess.”
While he has a motorized wheelchair to provide him mobility, he needs no assistance getting around and lives very independently at Cottonwood Estates.
McLean said being born the day after Christmas didn’t afford him double presents.
His parents were second-generation Americans of Scottish and Irish descent. They were farmers. But McLean said he only farmed a couple of years.
He couldn’t remember if anyone in his family had ever lived past 100 years of age. His father lived to be 93 and his mother lived to age 88.
McLean has three living children. His oldest child, a daughter, is 80 years old.
One of his favorite pastimes is to watch baseball on television.
“I played baseball on the hometown team,” McLean said.
When asked about his favorite memory, he said, “I don’t know. It is hard to tell. There’s so many of them.”
As for the secret of his longevity, McLean said with a laugh, “I don’t know of any secret. Just a day at a time.”
Information from: The Grand Island Independent, http://www.theindependent.com