Clifford Pedersen will be 105 years old in July of this year. The World War II veteran has lived in Mutual 2 for 35 years. He grew up in Massachusetts, married and raised a family there. After his first wife died at 56, he moved to California to be close to his two daughters. Cliff met his second wife, Georgia, here in Leisure World and they were married for 20 years. He is the father of four children and has five grandchildren, twelve great grandchildren and one great great grandchild. His advice to them is to get advanced education and he is concerned about enough jobs for their futures.
Childhood memories include listening to a friend’s radio (which was a new invention). They listened to the Yankees playing in the World Series as Babe Ruth hit a home run. He also listened as Charles Lindbergh landed his plane near Paris after flying solo across the Atlantic in 1927. When he was six years old and out playing ball, he doubled up with pain. The Dr. was called. The Dr. came to the house, wrapped Cliff in a blanket, put him in the back seat of his car and took him to the hospital. The doctor parked the car and then came in and performed an appendectomy. However his appendix had ruptured and he spent a month in the hospital.
Playing hockey in high-school was Cliff’s dream as a teenager. Saving his money, he bought the most expensive skates and excelled on the team. However, the skates were stolen ending his hockey career.
Cliff has never backed away from hard work. As a ten year old, Cliff worked on a farm after school and in the summer. He worked nine hours a day, six days a week at $1.25 a day. He made $7.50 a week, gave $5.00 to his mother and had $2.50 for himself. After graduating from high school, Cliff continued to work on the farm full time. When the farmer had not paid Cliff for 2 weeks, Cliff informed the farmer that he would have to leave and find a new job. The following Monday, Cliff took a train into Boston and went to an employment agency, where he was hired on the spot to work as an office boy at an insurance agency.
WWII started and Cliff wanted to be a pilot, but he is color blind and couldn’t pass the test even though he took it five times. He joined the army and served in the Mediterranean. He remembers crossing the Atlantic from New York to Ireland on the Queen Mary. A little known fact was that the ship hit a mine sweeper on their voyage and cut the mine sweeper in half. They didn’t want the Germans to know and it was said to be the best kept secret of the war. Several years ago, Cliff was part of the Honor Flight Society which went to Washington D.C. for a weekend to see the WWII Memorial and others. A highlight of his trip was meeting Senator Bob Dole. He was also very impressed with Fort Mc Henry.
After the war, Cliff attended Boston College, but had to finish up his Bachelor’s degree at night since he and his wife had their first child. He started as a clerk at a food company and they hired him later as a purchasing agent because of his college education.
Throughout his life, Cliff was athletic doing both skiing and jogging. He often ran twelve 10K races a year. He still rides an exercise bike to stay fit. He values his mental clarity and does puzzles and word games daily. He volunteered at “Care Connections”, an adult daycare center that was held at the Lutheran church, inside Leisure World after his 2nd wife (Georgia) passed away from Alzheimer’s in 2007. He continued his volunteer service up until COVID hit, and caused the daycare center to close. Cliff received the “Presidential Award” for his years of volunteer service.
Although macular degeneration has taken most of his eyesight, Cliff describes himself as content and happy. He has technology that helps with his vision as well as a machine that reads books to him. He fixes his own meals and is conscious of eating healthy.
Reflecting back on his life, Cliff wishes he had shown his mother more appreciation. “Women in those days were the real workers”. His mother washed clothes by hand, baked bread and worked long hours each day raising five children. His father died at 72, but his mother lived to be 84. His five siblings all lived well into their 80’s. He never met his grandparents who lived in Canada and Denmark.
Currently, Cliff is a participant at the Easter Seals Senior Center, located in Brea, thanks to his special friend, Edna Santos. He met Edna several years ago, when she was running the adult day care center, and Cliff was a volunteer. They have remained friends, and when Edna began working at Easter Seals, she suggested that Cliff come as a participant instead of a volunteer. Cliff has met many wonderful caring people, both at Care Connections and more recently at Easter Seals. Cliff says the best thing about volunteering is the friends that you make along the way. That is certainly the case for him.