Louise (Gibbs) Hatfield marked a milestone on Sunday, celebrating her 100th birthday at her home in Newport, where she lives with her daughters, JoDell Howell and Judie Massey.
Louise was born on Jan. 17, 1921, to C.M. and Mary Gibbs. Tragedy struck the family shortly after Louise turned two years old. Living in Minnesota at the time, her father was away, working in the woods to support his family, while Mary stayed behind to care for their five children, who ranged in age from 2 to nearly 11. One night their home caught fire, and it was engulfed in flames when Mary awoke. The four older children ended up dying in that blaze, according to a newspaper article written at the time. Mary was severely burned and believed she was going to die — that’s when she heard 2-year-old Louise (called “Weezy” by her siblings) cry out, “Mama, Weezy burn!”
Mary couldn’t get to the door, so she broke a window and threw her baby out, tumbling out after her. With charred arms and hands, she managed to stagger and crawl across an 80-acre pasture, taking Louise with her to a neighbor’s house. There was a blizzard happening at the time, and the temperature was -18 degrees. Most of their clothing had burned off, but they both survived.
Just after Louise turned 18, she married Joe Hatfield in Montana, and they were married for 70 years. They moved to Oregon during World War II, and Joe went to work as a welder in Portland. He passed away in 2007 at the age of 94.
In reflecting on her mother’s 100th birthday this week, daughter JoDell said, “If her momma hadn’t thrown her out that window, we wouldn’t be here, so God meant for us to be here.”
JoDell and Judie have been caring for their mother at their home for the past 13 years or so, but JoDell said, “She still does everything herself pretty much. However, she does have a bed and breakfast — she doesn’t cook. She works on crossword puzzles and all kinds of things like that.”
In addition to her two daughters, Louise has two sons — Jerry Hatfield, of Kingman, Ariz., and Joe Hatfield Jr., of Prosser, Wash. — and numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even great-great-grandchildren.