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80 to 100: Keeping busy is recipe for health
The secret to staying healthy and happy is keeping busy – that’s the gospel preached by Enumclaw’s Edwin Storm, who maintains a hectic schedule of mowing lawns and sprucing up his own acres, despite recently celebrating his 83rd birthday.
Known by most simply as Stormy, the longtime Enumclaw resident likes to tell of a recent visit to his physician. After taking the usual battery of tests, the doctor showed Storm a long list of check marks, all in the normal range. He takes no medication for any of the usual maladies plaguing American adults.
Storm, born in August 1927, traces his roots to a South Dakota farm, where the entire family pitched in to remain self-sufficient. As with most farm kids, he was given a list of chores at an early age. There were plenty of hands to share the work, as Storm was the seventh of his parents’ 13 children.
Times were tough in the Dakotas, so the family packed up and moved to Wilkeson in 1942 so his father could work for Weyerhauser. Storm did the same for a short time, then joined the Army in 1949. Assigned to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, D.C., he worked across from the Smithsonian and enjoyed relatively easy duty traveling around the country, setting up shows.
“That was a good tour of duty,” Storm recalls. “I loved it.”
All good things come to an end and, after 13 months, the Army figures Storm could be of use in Germany. He stayed overseas until being discharged.
During his military days, Storm married Berniece. Still married to this day, their early relationship was truly a long-distance one. Encouraged by a bunkmate, Storm wrote to Berniece for a year before they met.
Once home and free of his military obligation, Storm embarked on a 53-year career behind the wheel of a bus. He was employed by both the Enumclaw and White River school districts, as well as the Crystal Mountain Ski Resort.
His busiest times were the two decades he spent simultaneously working for the resort and schools. He would make three trips from Enumclaw to Crystal Mountain each day, hauling skiers to the slopes in the morning and delivering kids to Enumclaw schools; in the afternoon, the process was reversed. Then there was a late run, which often saw Storm delivering Crystal’s deposits to an Enumclaw bank.
“I used to bring down $80,000 or $90,000 in suitcases,” he said, “and I had a key to the bank so I could drop it off.”
He freely admits he loved transporting the littlest schoolkids and tells the story of a kindergarten girl who once refused to get off the bus. She said she was “going home with Stormy.” A promise of a picnic convinced the little one to get off the bus and join her mother.
Storm also dealt with older kids and the issues they bring to a bus. He banned one young man for two weeks and, when the father complained, Storm extended the ban to three weeks.
He retired from driving in 2006 having never been involved in an accident. A trophy presented by Crystal Mountain and commendations from both school districts attest to the longstanding relationship.
During the summer, with no skiers to haul, Storm became bored. There was a hole in the middle of his day, with bus runs only in the early morning and afternoon.
“In the summers, I started mowing lawns for people. Pretty soon I was doing 20,” he said.
That business continues and Storm now caters to about 25 steady customers. The larger lawns he tackles with a riding mower but the smaller projects find him trailing a push mower.
For a time, Storm kept a pedometer and discovered he was walking about 40 miles a week.
If it weren’t for the mowing enterprise, Storm could work fulltime on the six-acre parcel he purchased in 1966 for the whopping sum of $16,000. The land, just south of the Enumclaw city limits, has Boise Creek flowing through it. A real estate agent once told Storm he could net a million dollars if he sold, an offer Storm quickly declined.
“I told him I think I’ll just stay right here,” Storm said. “Where else would I go?”
Aside from remaining physically busy, Storm keeps active with his membership in the John Birch Society. Those who don’t know Storm by name might recognize his pickup – the one that rolls through Enumclaw parades with its “Get us out of the United Nations” billboard.
“It’s a great, patriotic American organization,” Storm said. He has been a member since 1962 and admits “I’ve been in the fight a long time.”
Storm sees a time coming when he’ll slow down a bit, retire the lawn mowers and use his free time to visit relatives scattered across the land. But he’s only 83, he points out, and those days can wait for a year or so.