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Kroeze celebrates 100th birthday

John Kroeze, center, rides a horse-drawn wagon the Fourth of July Parade last summer. He turns 100 years old Dec. 12 and there’s a big party planned, Saturday, Dec. 6 at his church, Gospel Hall, on Stillaguamish Avenue.  - File photo
John Kroeze, center, rides a horse-drawn wagon the Fourth of July Parade last summer. He turns 100 years old Dec. 12 and there’s a big party planned, Saturday, Dec. 6 at his church, Gospel Hall, on Stillaguamish Avenue.
— image credit: File photo

ARLINGTON — John Kroeze was born in Trafton on Dec. 12, 1908 and he’ll be 100 years old pretty soon. Indeed, there’s a big party planned starting 1 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 6 at the Gospel Hall, at 323 S. Stillaguamish Ave. in Arlington.

Kroeze attended Trafton School, walking the mile from his home on what is now called 115th Street, west of downtown Trafton.

His family’s homestead was transformed into the Cloverdale Golf Course for a while in the 1990s, and is now owned by the county for a future park and trailhead on the Whitehorse Trail.

The fifth of 11 children, John was raised sharing everything, said his daughter, Diane Lundberg. “Even his own birthday, he shared with two other siblings,” Lundberg said.

The centenarian was delivered by Dr. E. Martin Adams, who arrived on horseback just in time.

For 50 years, he operated the Ivy Rock Dairy Farm just out of Arlington on SR 530 until 1990, when he retired and moved into town.

In 2003, Kroeze shared stories with The Arlington Times for its series about pioneers of the valley for the city’s centennial celebration, and he remembered the days when he rode his dad’s wagon to town to go shopping.

Lundberg said he mentioned that wagon again recently.

“Dad just told me recently about taking the wagon all the way to Bryant to sell vegetables,” Lundberg said.

Along with milking cows and growing most of their food supply in the garden, Kroeze also built, or helped build, a lot of the barns in the Stillaguamish Valley — especially those round-roofed, Dutch-styled barns.

He said it wasn’t that hard.

“Just one board at a time,” he said.

John Kroeze married his wife, Deena, 71 years ago. They have two daughters, Diane and Mary.

In his later years he started building bird houses in his town-house carport and sold them at his daughter Mary’s shop, Evonne’s in downtown Arlington.

“Dad said he drank over a million cups of coffee in his life so far,” Lundberg said.

“He said he always had at least two cups and then other times he had 12 cups in a day.”

The community is invited to join Kroeze for his 100th birthday party.

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