Des Moines Woman Rides Harley To Celebrate 105th Birthday

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by Ralph Nichols

Faith Callahan is known to many Des Moines residents as a lively – and outspoken – advocate for saving the Mt. Rainier Pool, where she regularly participates in water aerobics. So no one will be surprised if there’s a big turnout for a party in her honor at Wesley Terrace on Saturday, Oct. 24, when Faith celebrates her 105th birthday.

But Faith already has enjoyed an early birthday present – a long wished-for ride on a Harley-Davidson 100th anniversary Heritage Softail® Classic motorcycle. The legendary American motorcycle manufacturer produced its first model just one year before she was born.

“I liked it very much,” she says of the ride around the Wesley Terrace parking area, “except I could just barely reach around Bill (Larson, who took her for the ride on his motorcycle) because he was in his leathers. When he asked me if I wanted to ride some more, I said ‘no.’ There will be a big birthday party in a month and I didn’t want to be thrown off before then.”

But, adds Faith, “It was a very smooth ride.”

She was born Oct. 22, 1904, in Milbank, S.D., and grew up near Wichita, Kansas, the daughter of a Methodist minister who normally made his rounds visiting parishioners with a horse and buggy. In 1910, her father bought a motorcycle to make his calls, but eventually went back to the horse and buggy because it conveyed a “better message” for a pastor.

Faith is a 16-year client of Larson, who does business as William C. Larson Financial Advisor in West Seattle. On her 103rd birthday, Larson recalls, “I told her about this motorcycle and she said, “I’d love to see it.’ I said, ‘I’ll come by and show it to you. Maybe we’ll take a ride on it.’”

But while he saw Faith again on her 104th birthday, they didn’t go for a ride, “so I made sure that we did it this year, and Glenda (his wife) and I saw her on Sept. 1,” he says.

Faith “is a very giving person, and always has a smile,” he adds.

Faith rode on the back of Bill Larson's 100th anniversary Heritage Softail Classic Harley.

Her answer to the inevitable question, “What is your secret to a long life?” is simple. “Exercise [these days the water aerobics] and eating normally,” Faith says. Genes played a role, too. “My parents lived very long lives, and I have always been fairly healthy.”

Faith lives at Wesley Homes with her daughter and son-in-law, Blythe and Ed Stanton.

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