F rederick Paulus may have turned 104 years old Sept. 17, but he doesn’t look a day older than 90.
Paulus, who lives at the Good Samaritan Society-Hastings Village, has kept himself active with daily activities. He walks nearly an hour every morning when the weather is nice and sometimes even twice a day if possible.
After he graduated from high school, Paulus took up welding. He continued welding until he turned 100 in 2017.
“I just wanted to keep on working until I was 100,” he said. “Whenever someone wanted to have something worked on or something made, I made sure to do that. I also worked on a farm for 57 years and I did shop work on the side, and when I decided to come to town that was the end of the farming.”
Paulus now is believed to be the oldest living person from his high school class. He is a graduate of the Harvard High School Class of 1934, which was the school’s largest graduating class ever with 52 students.
“I don’t know if it is luck or anything; I just consider myself fortunate,” Paulus said. “Just exercising every day, I guess, contributes to it — but I keep myself busy, and I’m enjoying what I do to keep busy. I can’t just sit in a chair and do nothing. I was blessed in keeping myself healthy and not do any damage to my body, and I also believe that has contributed in keeping me going.”
After he graduated, Paulus stayed on the family farm to help his father. Those days in the 1930s were hard.
“One year we picked a whole crop of corn that we put in one wagon,” he said. “It was pretty meager income. The cows and chickens and a big garden kept us alive. Things were tight.”
He doesn’t smoke or drink, though he sampled both as a younger man, as he explained in a previous article marking his 100th birthday.
“I smoked a couple cigarettes in high school but never did buy any,” he said. “If Dad had found out, I would have had something else that was smoking! He was dead set against them.
“I once picked corn in Iowa, and one of the guys there had a bottle (of alcohol) and we had a sip to be sociable, but I’ve never bought a drink. I haven’t touched a beer in 80-some years. I get along just fine without it. It doesn’t smell good, and it stinks after you’ve had it. That’s my opinion.”
When Paulus turned 79, he and his late wife, Esther, moved from the farm near Trumbull to Hastings where he ran his machine shop.
He and Esther have three daughters. Two live in Lincoln, and one lives in South Carolina.
In his later years, Paulus helped a friend work on a race car that competed at Mid-Nebraska Speedway near Doniphan. The friend had Paulus’ name on the back bumper of the car as a sign of how respected Paulus is.
Though never a race car driver himself, he did once test the limits of his automobile during a risky impromptu road race decades ago that finished on a snow-covered bridge in Grand Island.
Although he escaped the incident unharmed, he frowns upon the recollection to this day.