Melvin McClaran has experienced a lot during his time on Earth.

The Horizon Bay resident turns 101 years old this Saturday, and he and his wife, Kathleen, are looking forward to celebrating the occasion.

On Monday at Horizon Bay, McClaran rolled up in his motorized wheelchair with his navy blue suspenders neatly placed over the shoulders of his Wrangler shirt and clasped to his jeans. He wore a cap that said “McClaran Farms,” a gift from his grandchildren. Walker in-hand, Kathleen, also a Horizon Bay resident, made her way to the sofa to listen to her husband speak. She sat quietly, hands crossed in her lap, her white hair popping against her red sweater that matched her patterned dress. 

“I was born the 10th of May of 1913, 12 miles north of Aspermont, in a plum field on the floor of a Peterbuilt Wagon,” he said proudly. “There were no roads, and it was 10 days before momma had a doctor see her.”

He’s the grandson of F.C. Wright, and the son of William Franklin Hahn and Annie Wright. 

“My momma was a cowgirl, raised on a ranch and sidesaddle,” he said. “Her and her grandpa built seven miles of fence.”

Melvin is the only surviving sibling of four children. He attended school in Aspermont and Eliasville, and later graduated in Idalou in 1925. After graduation, he got a job at Higginbottom Lumber and then Brownfield Farms, a business that loaned him 400 acres of land and cattle to cultivate. 

McClaran eventually bought the land and farmed, and later purchased other farms and ranches. During this time Melvin was “draft noted,” as he said, to serve as an inspector in the U.S. Army but never had to serve. He received training to become an inspector, and his training allowed him to get a job as a city inspector.

“I issued permits, was the director appraiser for two banks and worked for the government as a government inspector,” he said. “I’ve inspected for health, plumbing, construction, electricity, was a lake patroller and a policeman.”

Melvin married his first wife, Pearla Bowers, and had three boys — Jerry, Wayne (both of whom have since passed away) and the only surviving son, Kenneth. They were all successful farmers who made lots of money, he said. After his first wife passed away, he met Kathleen at a cafe and quickly fell for her. She has a son of her own, Rudy Dye, who comes to visit them along with Kenneth. The couple wed Sept. 24, 1964, and celebrate their 50th anniversary this year.

“We built a home on a lake out here and worked for the city,” he said. 

Read more in Wednesday's Graham Leader.