One hundred years is: 1,200 months; 36,500 days, 876,000 hours; 52,560,000 minutes; and 3,153,600,000 seconds. No matter how you count it – it’s a really long time. Well Paul Pekola, life-long Grays Harbor County resident, achieves that distinction on November 19.
Born and raised in the Wishkah valley, he graduated from the local school. When World War II came along, he enlisted in the United States Army and served in the combat engineers.
Driving a caterpillar tractor, he helped build the first U.S. built airfield in England. He went into France, landing at Normandy on D3, only to be greeted with body bags stacked like cord wood. His unit received a citation for building the first Allied airstrip in France. He drove his caterpillar tractor all the way to Germany, building airstrips along the way. Under fire from German artillery, and nearly killed by disabled Allied aircraft trying to land on the strips they were building, they helped provide the groundwork for the Allied victory.
Following the war he returned to Grays Harbor, and met the love of his life – Norma B. Morton of Hoquiam. They married in 1946, and settled on the Mox Chehalis Road outside McCleary. There they built a home that Paul lived in for over 60 years.
Paul and Norma, raised Trudy and Terry, and also housed nearly 100 foster children over many years.
Paul then made his living in the timber industry. He eventually partnered with Harry Hebert, and formed their own logging company. Together they logged all over Grays Harbor. Later, in 1972, he purchased the family farm on the Wynooche River. There he raised cattle and hay. He still is involved in the farm and logging.
Norma passed away due to Alzheimers disease in 2013. After living alone in the country, he moved into Channel Point Village Assisted Living this summer.
On Saturday, Nov. 16, from 2 to 4 p.m., there will be an open house reception in order to celebrate his 100th birthday at Channel Point Village, 907 K St., Hoquiam. It is being jointly put on by family, and church friends, and is open to the residents of the Village and the community at large.