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Ashland man celebrates his 100th birthday

Posted on Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 12:08 pm

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In 1913, Woodrow Wilson had just taken office as President of the United States, people came from near and far to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and the Ford Motor Co. introduced its first moving assembly line.

Col. Clarence Hargrave, originally of Dendron, Va., turned 100 March 10 in Ashland.

That year also marks the birth of Col. Clarence Hargrave, who celebrated his 100th birthday last weekend.

Born March 10, 1913 in Dendron, Va., Hargrave’s life has included military service during World War II and the Korean War, about 25 years of living in New York City working in the transportation industry, and constant prayer in more recent years.

Hargrave moved to Ashland in 2000, shortly before his wife passed away. He lives in the Hanover Manor assisted living facility and attends church at First Baptist across the street.

Tinnitus interferes with his hearing. He has an artificial hip. Fatigue is common. However, he suffers no recurring pain, something he’s thankful for.

“I thank the Lord every day. I pray every day, every morning and every night, and I thank Him for not having pain,” Hargrave said.

He arranges a daily Bible reading for the residents at Hanover Manor.

Hargrave devotes much of his time to scripture. While he enjoys watching sports, he avoids them on Sundays.

He gave up smoking and alcohol long ago, after a good friend drank himself to death in Korea.

“I quit cold, had no problem,” he said.

He said he used to be a “hypocrite” until he started praying.

“I was saying I was a Christian, and I wasn’t,” he said. “I’ve been praying ever since.”

He encourages young people to go to church.

“Find out what God’s word says, and God’s word is the Holy Bible,” Hargrave said.

In his hometown of Dendron growing up, there were three churches, and “everybody in town went to church on Sunday and on Wednesdays.”

Hargrave is thankful to be debt-free and able to afford his bills, now and throughout his life. He even made it through the Great Depression unscathed.

“It had no effect on me, but it did on my father,” a railroad worker, he said, adding that he recalls lines “100 yards long” of people looking for work.

Hargrave is the last of his family, but he has made many friends throughout his life.

“The Lord gave me a talent of liking people, and I have good friends all over the world,” he said.

“If you’re nice to people, they’ll be nice to you, and that applies anywhere. … Love others as you love yourself. If you do that, you’ll end up rewarded,” Hargrave said.

“I’ve had more done for me that I didn’t deserve because they liked me, and I can’t think of any harm that I’ve had done at all. …

“Every time I changed commands for about 10 years, everybody that was in my outfit wanted to go with me,” he added. “I didn’t humor anybody, but [I was] kind to people.”

Hargrave considers Hanover Manor an exceptional facility and appreciates its staff.

“They’re all going to have wings,” he said.