Cleo Hawthorne of Creston has lived through 17 presidents and 26 presidential terms, including President Obama’s current term.
He has lived through seven major foreign wars, including World War I, Korean War and war in Afghanistan.
Hawthorne is 99 years old. He will be turning 100 New Year’s eve, as will his identical twin brother Clifford of Farnhamville.
The twins celebrated their 100th birthday together in October.
Born in Prescott, Hawthorne and his family moved to a farm located where 3 Mile Lake is. In 1936, his parents moved to Creston.
“We just gew up with our own recreation,” said Hawthorne in a Creston News Advertiser interview Thursday. “On the farm we were always busy with something. (We and the) neighbor kids would get together and play ball.”
Hawthorne’s family consisted of his parents, Page and Mary “Zetta,” younger (by thirty minutes) twin brother Clifford, and five sisters, Velva, Zilla, Linda, Mickey and Bea.
Hawthorne, 23 at the time, began working at the Farmer’s Coop Creamery in Corning that same year, 1936, a place he worked for 30 years. While working as an assistant manager at the creamery in 1936-37, he took an accounting course through La Salle Correspondence School, which consisted of doing worksheets and mailing them back to the school. He did not finish the bookkeeping course.
“I was eligible for the draft for World War II,” explained Hawthorne, “but I didn’t have a daugher, my daughter wasn’t born yet. I was froze at my job, we were packing butter and a lot of that was going to the service. We were packaging it for shipments overseas. It was a job to pack that.”
The butter was formed into one pound segments, then packaged into a box of 64 pounds of butter.
“The state was running out of butter makers,” said Hawthorne of not being drafted for the war.
In 1966, he was offered a managing position at Crystal Springs Creamery in Kimballton. The creamery was bought out by Associated Milk Producers of Minnesota while Hawthorne worked there.
He retired in 1976 and moved back to Corning. In 1984, Hawthorne married his second wife, Leola.
“I was there till I lost my wife in ‘84, and then Leola adopted me up here, in late ‘84,” said Hawthorne.
Hawthorne has one daughter, Donna of Atlantic, with his first wife. He has four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Hawthorne’s second wife, Leola, had three children, Melvin, who died, Bob of Essex, and Pat of Waukee.
Hawthorne and his wife enjoy taking walks around town and, when the weather doesn’t permit, Walmart. The two used to vacation in Arizona, where they would stay in a park for several months of the year. There were potlucks and coffee and rolls several times a month. They stopped going about 10 years ago.
The couple currrently live in Regency Park in Creston. They also attend community potlucks and coffee and rolls once a month.
“At my age you (don’t) make plans,” jokes Hawthorne. “I don’t even buy green bananas!”