ORO GRANDE — According to longtime resident Ovie Corrington, passing the century mark doesn’t feel “much different than 99.”
The Oro Grande resident, who helped weave the fabric of the Victor Valley and whose family once farmed what is now the Roy Rogers Ranch, celebrated her 100th birthday with about 150 family and friends on the historic farm on Feb. 28.
As she reflected on her life, Corrington said she felt blessed to be around “good” people and cherishes the memories of family and friends who helped her to create joyful memories throughout the years.
Corrington’s daughter, Linda Mearig, who helped share her mother’s story with the Daily Press, said the newest centenarian’s heart and faith remain strong, and her contagious joy is still spreading.
Born near Shawnee, Oklahoma, Corrington said her family never had much, but they always seemed to have enough, with her father working various jobs, including operating a restaurant where her father “was too generous with the broom-corn johnnies” who kept the eatery clean.
During her father’s work with the railroad, Corrington said she remembers one family trip by train where fear arose among her siblings when the train they were riding in crossed an overflowing river at a very slow pace where the rails were not visible.
When tuberculosis threatened her father’s life, her family drove to California in their new car, a Willys Whippet. After a short period in California to visit family, Corrington said she quickly realized that Chino was now the family’s new home.
Corrington said as a 14 she was very unhappy about the move, and the little cheerfulness that she tried to work up would soon evaporate when classmates began calling the Native American “Minnie-Ha-Ha.”
During a visit to the Los Angeles County Fair in 1933, Ovie said she met her “dreamboat, Beauford Corrington.” A year later, the couple married and later moved to Oro Grande with their three young daughters.
Corrington said her husband worked at the Verde Ranch where he previously worked. Another daughter was soon added to the family and the couple were loaned “money on a handshake” to purchase the 65 acres where Ovie has lived for almost 70 years.
“They raised alfalfa and had a small dairy, but Beauford drove a bus for the local schools to supplement their income,” said Mearig, who lives on the original farm and takes care of her mother. “They were married 57 years before her husband died.”
Mearig said Ovie’s life influenced many people in the High Desert as she taught Sunday School and Awana for many years at Oro Grande Community Church and taught young ladies as a 4-H leader.
“She and Beauford were a large part of the very first San Bernardino County Fair in the little park in downtown Victorville,” Mearig said. “That began years of participating, from building floats for the parade to building 4-H booths for the fair that had moved to its current location.”
Mearig said her mother also entered her own sewing and canning to be judged at the fair.
“I taught my good friend, Jeanne, to sew and then she would win the top prizes at the fair instead of me,” Corrington said. “She was a popular judge at the county fair and the Orange Show, judging 4-H entries.”
Mearig said her mother’s family includes a second daughter, Diane Gibson, who lives in Hawaii, and 11 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren, 19 great-great grandchildren, totaling “seven families and five generations.”
Mearig said over the years, Ovie has also experienced losses and heartaches. One daughter, Janet, died at age 17 and another, Gerrilee, at age 52.
But Corrington said she attributes her ability to continue on and to reach 100 years to three basic ingredients: Her love for Jesus, laughter, and “simply enjoying what you had to do for your family and for others.”
“Ovie gave her life to others without even knowing it,” Mearig said. “However, ask anyone who knows Ovie and they will quickly remember her gift of giving help, laughter and good food.”
By RENE RAY DE LA CRUZ for vvdailypress.com