By Deb Silverthorn
Born in the roaring ‘20s, Nate Meiches, who celebrated his 100th birthday Aug. 29, is still roaring. For The Legacy Willow Bend resident, one of its first, life has been good and he is grateful to be here and to have shared the special time with his family.
“One hundred. It’s a number for sure. A number I’m blessed for, that’s for sure,” said Meiches.
The father of Mark (Michelle) and Bob (Susan), both doctors, was more than thrilled to have four generations together to help him blow out the candles. Along with his grandson Ben (Bebhinne) and granddaughter Mollie (Anthony) Hinds were the great-grandchildren, Adira and Emmett Meiches and Jonah Hinds.
“It was beautiful to be together. I was happy to meet the little babies and to have us all together. I celebrated with my family and with The Legacy caretakers and it was very nice. It was all very wonderful,” Meiches kvelled.
He was born in Omaha, Nebraska, the son of Anna and Sam and brother of Herbert, Geulah and Maurice, all of blessed memory. Fresh out of Central High School, Meiches enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps (later evolved into the Air Force) and was sent to Tinian Island, where he worked on bomb and gun mechanisms, as “fire control.”
A side note, he recalls, is that his family’s dog, Tippi, served as a sentry dog in the Quartermaster Corp of War Dogs K-9 Corps. “I was only a private and only served a year, but it’s something else that my dog, who served three years, received more commendations than I did.”
When he returned to the States, Nate earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Colorado. He then met the former Miriam Goodman when she and her mother made a five-hour road trip from Wichita to Omaha for Miriam to go on a blind date with Nate’s cousin. Instead, it was Meiches for whom she fell.
All’s well that ends well and the Meicheses, who married in 1948, enjoyed 54 years as husband and wife before she passed away. The family spent most vacations driving to visit family in Kansas, Colorado and Missouri with the occasional trek to South Dakota, where Nate and his father-in-law owned some land.
“When I met Miriam, her father already owned some land there, so I bought in too. I think it was $5 for one quarter section — which was about 160 acres — and then $10 for another quarter,” he said. “We shook hands and now three generations of ‘Farmer Stevens’ later, I’m still getting paid for them to farm the land.”
During their lifetime together, Nate’s career as a computer engineer and programmer with IBM, for whom Miriam also worked, had the couple and their sons living in Kansas, California, Illinois and New York before making Dallas their home in 1980. Even after his retirement, Nate returned to the company to work part-time.
“Back then, computers were huge, they were so big and no, we couldn’t have imagined that anyone would have a telephone with the capabilities that people have now,” he said. While he worked on computers for decades, he never had a home computer of his own.
Setting up home in Dallas, with Bob away at medical school and Mark in college, Nate and Miriam volunteered at Jewish Family Service of Greater Dallas and were members of congregations Tiferet Israel, Beth Torah and, in recent years for Nate, Anshai Torah.
When he turned 13, Nate’s bar mitzvah celebration meant his being invited with the men for an aliyah and a lot of mazel tovs. Seventy years later, he returned for a bracha and more celebrating at Beth Torah, where he “became” bar mitzvah again. Soon afterward he joined fellow congregants for a trip to Israel (his second, as he and his wife had been there in 1973).
Among the Meicheses’ close friends, whom they’d met at synagogue and with whom they played his beloved game of bridge, were longtime TJP columnist Harriet Gross and her late husband Fred.
The couples didn’t realize they’d become family one day but did so when the Meicheses’ son Mark and the Grosses’ cousin Michelle shared a carpool to Dallas, from Rice University, in order to come to Dallas for Passover with their respective families. That carpool ride turned into date after date and a wedding. Forty-two years later, it’s still all in the family.
When Nate moved into The Legacy Willow Bend, there was intention behind his apartment’s proximity to the dog park where he and his pup “Oreo” spent much time. Now those are just memories; Nate speaks of how “we adored one another,” as his face lights up at the chance to share stories of this man’s best friend.
One hundred years ago, the life expectancy for men was 56.1 years; the first issue of TIME magazine was published; Clarence Birdseye invented the process to freeze food; Calvin Coolidge was only three weeks into succeeding Warren Harding, who died just two years into his term; and “Yes, We Have No Bananas” was the biggest hit on the radio.
Nate offers no secrets to his success of aging — maybe a bite of his own blueberry pie or spoon of his turkey soup — but is grateful he’s been blessed to do so.
“I don’t know why I’m still here; I just lived and I’m happy,” he said.