Freda Thorlakkson is turning 100 – Chico Enterprise-Record
CHICO — Nearly 100-year-old Freda Thorlaksson doesn’t think living to nearly 100 is a big deal, but her daughter Brooks Thorlaksson begs her to disagree.
“Our mother has always been very focused and task-oriented, so it’s no surprise that she’s thrived at every stage of her remarkable 100 years,” Brooks Thorlaksson said. “She’s had a life full of ups and downs, joys and sadness, and she’s still going.”
Freda Thorlaksson grew up in Newton, Iowa. She said she was a sickly child and had been hospitalized several times. She suffered from asthma, and at that time one of the ways to treat it was to use home remedies, such as hot and cold compresses applied to the chest. Asthma continued to plague her in high school.
“One of my teachers was very nice and offered my mother the opportunity to go to Boulder, Colorado with her family. He was going to take summer courses in college and we knew that Boulder had a very dry climate. “I spent the summer with them and never had asthma. With my mother’s agreement, he found me a place to live in a good boarding house,” Thorlaksson said.
It was in Colorado that Thorlakkson met her future husband, Steingrimur Octavius Thorlaksson, Jr., who passed through Tavie. Her husband was Icelandic and Norwegian. His son is named Steingrimur Octavius Thorlaksson III, but goes by Thor.
Thorlaksson’s mother made and sold pies, cakes and cookies from her home kitchen over a wood-burning stove.
“I can still see her opening the oven to decide if it was the right temperature to bake. When I was in high school, I often delivered the pies that were ready. Each 9-inch pie my mom got 25 cents and the restaurant cut into five pieces and sold 10 cents each,” Thorlaksson said.
“During the Depression, when the soles of my shoes wore out, my dad would cut up pieces of cardboard to put in the shoes,” Thorlakkson said.
Thorlaksson gave birth to her first child in Boulder. She and her husband had three children together. One of his daughters, Carol, lives in Reno, his daughter Brooks lives in Chico, and his son, Thor, lives in Adin, north of Redding. Thorlakkson and her husband were married in January 1943, and Brooks was born in December of the same year. Her second child was born in 1947 and her son was born in 1953.
During World War II, Thorlakkson lived in Colorado. Her husband had moved there to attend Japanese language school. He was born and raised in Japan. They married in Colorado and lived with her husband’s parents in Berkeley. Her husband was sent to Japan. Thorlaksson said he was fluent in Japanese. He returned after the war ended.
The couple remained in Berkeley, and Steingrimur Thorlaksson went to school at UC Berkeley. He was a violinist. After that, they moved to the town of McArthur in Shasta County, where he worked as a music teacher for 35 years. He also taught typing and shorthand. He died in 2011. The Thorlakssons were married for 67 years.
Thorlaksson served in the all-volunteer PTA for 25 years. “There were so many things we did at PTA,” she said. “I had opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t served in the PTA.”
“My involvement with the PTA has been a wonderful part of my life,” Thorlaksson said. “I learned so much from the PTA.”
She became Vice President of Education for Public Welfare. Thorlaksson traveled to Japan with her colleague Wilson Riles, the California State Superintendent of Schools. They studied the education system in Japan for three weeks.
“We are looking at the education system and how it relates to ours,” Thorlaksson said. She said that in the American PTA the members were female, but in Japan the members were male.
“The men took over and did the job,” she said. “It was so interesting as a team to go there. We learned how Japanese culture is very different from American culture.
Riles asked her to come up with a sex education plan for schools. He asked the PTA to take over. A journalist from San Francisco wrote an article about the PTA’s support of sex education in schools.
“In my opinion, women started working and the PTA was the first women’s liberation group. Women joined the PTA to get away from home,” Thorlaksson said.
Thorlakkson was president of the PTA from 1979 to 1981. She then served as a consultant. She was involved in the national PTA.
Thorlakkson threw the baseball in a Dodgers game after the team asked the PTA president to come.
Thorlaksson moved to Chico in 1980. When she moved here, she got involved with Weight Watchers. Thorlakkson lost 10 pounds and received a lifetime membership. He was asked to work for the organization as a receptionist. She worked for Weight Watchers until she was 90. She still has close friends in the local organization.
“They’ve been so good to me,” Thorlaksson said. “We always go out for the wine.”
“I felt like I was helping them,” Thorlaksson said of Weight Watcher customers. She likes that Weight Watchers now focuses more on health.
Thorlaksson took evening classes and attended the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Her daughter started a reading course for Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
“When I got to Chico, everything was there,” she said. “My husband retired and we decided to leave the remote and rural area for Chico. We were like kids in a candy store when we moved. There were so many shops to visit and we enjoyed everything the university had to offer. They had just hired Yokohama to build the organ. Since my husband spoke Japanese, he became an active friend and volunteer.
Thorlaksson’s 100th birthday is February 7. Brooks Thorlaksson planned a big party, but when a few guests came with COVID-19, they decided to postpone it.
The secret to Freda Thorlaksson’s longevity is – well, she has no idea. She trains every day and takes a line dancing class. She said she likes to be involved and eats right. She is curious and interested in many things.
“I’m surprised my kids are thrilled that I’m turning 100,” Thorlaksson said. “I’m very lucky, my children support me so much. They are as sweet as they can be. We talk or text every day. ”
His children come regularly on vacation.
Thorlakkson received a nice surprise in the mail in 2004. Thorlaksson had written Maria Shriver a note regarding her story about caring for her father, who had Alzheimer’s disease. Shriver wrote Thorlaksson and sent him a copy of his book.
“I told her my husband had Alzheimer’s disease and cared for him for 13 years. I know she had a hard time with him. (Arnold) Schwarzenegger was governor at the time,” Thorlaksson said. “He had Alzheimer’s disease and when I learned that Maria had written a children’s book about her father who had it, I wrote him a letter saying how important the book would be for the children. I was so surprised when she sent me the book and the letter.