Happy 100th Birthday Rudy Spanich

What do you do for a man who’s turning 100, the same man who’s invested his life in helping his community? You throw a party.

A party with delicious cream-filled white cake and ice cream, plus gifts, cards and balloons was just what Tuesday afternoon called for as the Hoquiam Lions Club and Rudy Spanich’s daughters did for Spanich, who was celebrating his centennial at the Hoquiam Elks Lodge.

Spanich, dressed in a light green shirt, was thankful for a lot on Tuesday.

“I’m lucky, I guess,” Spanich said in a quiet, humble tone. “100 years old and I haven’t had any physical problems. No operations, no nothing. I’m happy to be here.”

Spanich’s daughter Debbie Ramstad described her father as “hardworking.” After devoting 65 years of his life to the Hoquiam Lions Club — including winning the Melvin Jones Award, the club’s “highest honor” — Spanich was clearly the VIP at the lodge.

In addition to the dessert items, there were pulled pork sandwiches and potato salad. Spanich ate half of his sandwich. He looked too busy to eat, as people were coming by to shake his hand, pay tribute and to let him know they couldn’t wait to see him at future events. One man said happily, “I hope to be as old as you!”

Gerald Schaefer, president and secretary of the Hoquiam Lions Club, listed a few of the ways Spanich has impacted the club since he joined in October 1957.

“He has given 65 years of ‘Lionism’ to Hoquiam,” Schaefer said. “He’s been club president, he’s received the Melvin Jones Award, which is our highest honor here. He’s the chef of the salmon barbecue. And we have over 1.2 million members in the world, we’re the largest service organization worldwide, and to get a Melvin Jones Award is unusual.”

Paul McMillan, amongst at least 100 people in attendance, was happy to celebrate Spanich’s birthday.

“He’s been an important part of the club, needless to say,” McMillan said.

Lions Club’s 19G District Governor Debbie Mansell was also there to commemorate Spanich’s birthday.

“This is what is called a monarch chevron. … This is a 65-year Monarch Chevron that we’re presenting to Rudy today for his years of service in Hoquiam’s club.”

Mansell explained her theme in 2023 as district governor is to commemorate Lions, because they’re “service superheroes.”

“Obviously you have a service superhero right here in your midst with Rudy,” Mansell said. “65 years is a long time to participate in anything, any club. It’s important as Lions that we find those projects that mean a lot to us, and I’d like to say that those give you your superheroes.”

Mansell added how Spanich’s 65 years of service to the club, including the projects with which he’s helped, have established his status as a “service superhero.”

Mansell awarded him with the Service Superhero Award, a District Governor pin, and an International President’s Pin, for his 65 years of being a Lion.

Spanich thanked Mansell, and then he spoke about what it’s meant to be a Lion for nearly seven decades.

“I’m really happy to be a Lion,” Spanich said. “I can remember joining it years ago and having meetings at the Emerson Grade School. So it’s been a long, long time. I can’t remember all the things that happened, but how nice it has been here. … And when you get to be 90 years old, or 99 years old, I guess I’m — am I 100 yet? There’s a few things you remember.”

One of Spanich’s daughters clarified to her father, “You’re 100 and two days.”

“I want to thank everybody,” Spanich said. It’s been great to be in the club and I enjoyed it very much. And I enjoy the individuals and their families. So thank you so much for all the honor and the time I’ve had with all of you. Thank you so much.”

The club members then gave Spanich a large birthday card, and then Rudy blew out the candles on his cake. Spanich shared one of his favorite things about being a Lion.

“I think the friendship you have at the club is the greatest,” Spanich said. “People really seem to enjoy each other.”

Spanich then made sure to thank the fact he’s still going strong after all these years.

“I thank the Lord that in 100 years I haven’t had any problems. I haven’t had any operations of any kind. I’ve been real lucky to be as healthy as I am.”

Spanich talked how he likes to keep busy with chores at home.

Ramstad was certainly happy to celebrate such a special occasion for her father. She relayed to The Daily World what made him a special father.

“He’s wonderful, wonderful,” Ramstad said. “He’s always a role model for his family. Hardworking and always there for his family. We love him dearly. He just sets such a good example for us.”

Contact Reporter Matthew N. Wells at matthew.wells@thedailyworld.com.