POULSBO — Daniel H. Wenzlaff may be 104, but many consider him young at heart.
Consider the airline he recently flew with to see family in California.
On passenger ages, the airline’s ticketing system didn’t go over the age of 100, said Patricia Smith, Wenzlaff’s oldest daughter. He was 103 at the time, but the ticket gave his age as 3. “[The airline doesn’t] get that many 100 year olds,” Smith said, laughing.
In November, Wenzlaff flew to Napa, California, where he visited a golf course for the first time in nearly 19 years. He putted on the green and got a hole in one, Smith said. He also enjoyed a barbecue with his five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
On May 24, Wenzlaff’s family celebrated his 104th birthday at the Brookdale Montclair Senior Living with cupcakes and root beer floats; when Brookdale Montclair activities director Liz Warren asked Wenzlaff how he was doing on his big day, he responded — recalling that airplane ticket goof — that he was doing pretty good. After all, he was 4 now, he quipped.
Bob Wenzlaff said his dad was “really pleased” that the family could come together for his birthday.
Dan’s family has a history of longevity. His parents, Robert D. and Louise S. Wenzlaff, lived to be 84 and 97, respectively. His late wife, Phyllis, also lived to be 97.
Wenzlaff was born in 1913 in Yakima County; he had two sisters, Lucille and Margaret. During the Great Depression, Wenzlaff’s dad sold the family’s apple orchard in Zillah to Pacific Fruit and Produce, and the family moved to Seattle.
At the time, “You couldn’t make enough off of selling apples,” Wenzlaff said.
Wenzlaff’s father became a millwright for American Can Co.; Dan’s first job was as a mechanic at the same company. He later became a career surveyor for the state highway department.
Wenzlaff’s can vividly recall details. He remembers the number of paintbrushes he bought at Woolworth’s in Seattle when he met his future wife. (He bought six. He and his daughter, Pat, joke that he was trying to impress her.) He remembers when the golf course he visited in Napa last year had unpaved roads. And in an earlier interview, Wenzlaff told how his wife, working at The Seattle Times on Nov. 22, 1963, took a breaking-news phone call from the Associated Press and became the second person in the city to know that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.
But above all, Wenzlaff remembers the good years he and Phyllis had.
“We had our ups and downs, but we had a lot more ups,” he said.
At 104, Wenzlaff is making new memories with his family, describing his reunion with them on his birthday as a “treasure.”
— Ian Snively is an intern with Kitsap News Group. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.