Lots of people ask Orville Davis what his secret is. His secret to a long life, that is.
But Davis, who turned 105 on May 16, says there's no trick to it. “I don't do anything special,” he said. “But I get that question a lot.”
Davis was born in Illinois but moved with his family to Iowa when he was 1 year old.
“We loaded everything we owned onto a train and came down,” Davis said.
They lived in Bondurant for three years and then moved to Story County. He attended North Grant Consolidated School, located half way between Ames and Nevada. “But they only had 10 grades, so they paid my tuition to go to Nevada. And I graduated from Nevada High School in 1930,” he said.
Davis farmed with his father for many years, and when his father died, he continued to farm for himself and take care of his mom.
“My mother and I moved to town— to Roland — in the spring of 1950 and I still went out to the country to farm,” he said.
“In my days on the farm, most every farmer had just a little livestock for their own use,” Davis said.
“We got our first tractor in 1936,” he said, adding that he had only John Deere tractors. “That was kind of late. We were one of the last farms to get a tractor. My dad was a horse lover.
“The tractor was better for the farmer because you didn't have to feed it in the winter time. But my dad had a team of horses as long as he lived.”
His mother had some health issues and he needed help caring for his mother. He hired a lady named Minerva from Ames to help, and she moved in to help with her. After three years, his mother passed away, and he decided to propose to Minerva.
“I asked her if she wanted to marry me. I never knew anyone could be so happy,” Davis said.
“I've found out one thing about old age,” Davis said. “The older you get the more difficult life is. … You lose a lot when you can't walk.”
He counts himself fortunate that he has a friend who pushes his wheelchair to lunch each day and helps him with a variety of things around his apartment at Timberland Village Senior Independent Living.
Davis has interests, but hobbies are hard. “I can't read much anymore. I can't walk,” he said. Davis enjoys music CDs ranging from Big Band to classic country, but his CD player is broken.
He has a friend who comes to take him for a ride in his car occasionally. Davis enjoys visiting, and despite his physical frailties, his wit is still sharp.
When asked about his heritage, he said, he had ancestors from many different countries. “Roland was a Norwegian community though,” Davis said with a chuckle. “When we moved there in 1950, we just about had to go in at night because we weren't Norwegian.
“But I lived there for 50 years, and when I left, they said I was Norwegian by osmosis.”
He was a member of the Roland Kiwanis for all of those 50 years, and every year since he moved into Timberland, the group has had a birthday party for him.
“I have a lot of respect for the people in Roland,” he said.
Davis enjoys visiting and said he welcomes visitors.