Newport resident celebrates a century of life

Christina Hutton La Hiff, pictured above in the 20th century and below this year, will celebrate her 100th birthday on May 22. (Courtesy photos)

Newport resident Christina Hutton La Hiff was born May 22, 1920, in Clydebank, Dunbartonshire, Scotland, as the first child of Daniel Hutton and Mary McGregor Melvin. Her brother, Daniel Hutton Jr., was born in 1924 and passed away in 1984. Her father, Daniel, worked as a ship builder in Clydebank and her mother, Mary, had a restaurant. As a young woman, Christina worked as a nurse.

She married James Blair Blackwood but in 1941, about six months after their marriage, he was killed as a World War II pilot flying over Germany. She witnessed the bombing of her town of Clydebank by the Nazis where over 700 people were killed. She was also in London when it was being bombed. She said it was very scary because you could hear the bomb coming but didn’t know where it would land.

In 1941, she married John Kerrison Birks in Preston, Lancashire, England. In this marriage, they had a son named Rodney Kerrison, who passed away in Newport in 2016. Her husband, John, was a film director and helped make films, such as “Lawrence of Arabia” and “The Bridge Over the River Kwai.” He moved his family to Florida and was killed in Sri Lanka while driving during a monsoon storm. It was a difficult time for her, being with a small child in a foreign country without a husband.

She then met and married Louis Edward La Hiff. They lived in Tennessee, where they owned and ran a Hallmark store. She loved her marriage to Louis, who passed away in 1992. She relocated to Portland, and later moved to Newport with her son, Rodney. They loved the beauty of the coast.

Christina is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. She said she loved the hymns the most. She was a member of the Sweet Adelines choir and loves singing. She has a great memory and can still sing all the old Scottish songs she learned when she was young. She loves theater and dance and was actively involved.

“I wish I were 90 again so I could do the Highland fling,” Christina said.

Christina is very health conscious. Well into her 90s, she could be seen walking up and down the aisles of Fred Meyer during bad weather to stay in shape. She is very careful with her diet and does not smoke or drink alcohol. She lives in a second-floor apartment, and can go up the stairs with ease. 

People love her wherever she goes because she speaks kind words to them in her Scottish brogue and remembers their names. Christina has advice for the next generations.

“Things happen in life that we don’t plan,” she said. “I experienced the death of a son and three husbands. I lived through bombings in Clydebank and London. We don’t get to choose what will happen to us in this life, but we can choose how to react to it. We just do the best we can do and try to be positive.”

Christina also expressed her appreciation for all who help her with visits, groceries, cards and phone calls.

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