Grayce Goodrich has lived a pretty good life for the past 104 years and 14 days.
She raised a huge family, saw Celilo Falls before it was replaced by the Bonneville Dam and built a house in Northeast Bend’s Orchard District at a time when that trendy neighborhood was mostly pasture and grazing land.
“(This city has) grown up around us,” said Goodrich, whose secret to being one of the Central Oregon’s 20-plus centenarians is to just “live for the next day.”
Goodrich has the distinction of being one of two Oregonians photographed for “To Live 10,000 Years,” a national art project that seeks to tell the stories of some of the country’s oldest residents. Photographer Danny Goldfield said he hopes to photograph two 100-year-olds — one man and one woman — from each state for this effort and that he’s been making some pretty good time as he hopes to knock out 30 of these photos by the time he finishes a 15-state road trip that brought him to Bend.
“If people connect with these photos,” said Goldfield, who explained why he set out on this portrait project. “Then the next time they see an older person, they might start talking to them and learn their story.”
Born in her parent’s house on June 6, 1911, Goodrich was the second of three sisters. Ruth, the oldest, died of a heart attack in 1963. Sue is 97 years old. Their father worked as a doctor at a mill near Portland. Goodrich moved to Bend in 1937 and spent a year working as a laboratory assistant for Dr. Clyde J. Rademacher, founder of Bend Memorial Clinic, before she married Alva Goodrich and started a family. He died in 1973. The couple had four children. 14 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren.
Goodrich still lives in a four-bedroom house she and her husband built on Northeast Eighth Street before that road was paved. Back then the neighborhood was pretty desolate. Her closest neighbors lived across the street. Grazing land stretched for at least three city blocks between Northeast Quimby and Northeast Revere avenues.
Although the area has been built up since then, Goodrich admits she doesn’t know most of the area’s most recent residents because she’s “not a good neigbhor” and keeps to herself.
Goodrich has had some great times at this house, but not every memory was a happy one. She said Alva was killed by a “drunk client who went on a shooting spree” about 10 years after her sister died. Those losses were followed by several family members suffering heart problems.
Goodrich pressed on, and today enjoys a pleasant life. She often eats lunch in her backyard where her family continues to raise a handful of sheep. She visits with her younger sister, who lives in McMinnville.
Last weekend, Goodrich attended her 40-year-old granddaughter Christine’s second wedding.
This was also where she met up with photographer Goldfield to have her picture taken for the “To Live 10,000 Years” portrait project.
Goldfield spent this past week traveling across Washington so he could photograph a 100-year-old woman in Yakima and a man who lives in a Seattle-area assisted living facility.
“I think I’m about four days behind schedule, but I’ll catch up,” said Goldfield, who as of Thursday had photographed centenarians who live in Alaska, California, Connecticut, Maryland and New Hampshire as well as Oregon and Washington.
Goldfiled said “To Live 10,000 Years” is his second major photography project and that it’s proving to be a little bit more complicated than his earlier project, NYChildren, where he set out to photograph a child from every country in the world who was living in one of New York’s five boroughs, because it involves a much bigger geographic area that’s not completely accessible by mass transit.
But he enjoys it just the same because “(traveling) gives you an excellent opportunity to meet people and hear their stories.”
It also gives him the chance to connect with some of his friends, including a person who used to date his sister’s best friend, and that’s how he came to meet Goodrich.
Goldfield said he was thinking about coming to Bend when he planned his 100-day road trip out West. He called the Central Oregon Council on Aging’s office to see if they knew of any centenarians he could photograph, and one of the agency’s staff members had a person who fit the bill.
“We put a call out to the woman, and she ended up being sick,” said Goldfield, who found himself in Bend about two weeks ago with no centenarians to photograph.
Not letting this ruin his plans. Goldfield went online and started looking up churches where someone might know someone.
He found someone at the Foundry Church who knew Goodrich’s youngest daughter, Sarah Larson, 68.
“It’s a treasure hunt,” Goldfield said via phone as he continued making his way through the Pacific Northwest on his quest for 100-year-olds.
Goodrich said she enjoyed the experience even though it seemed Goldfield never took his finger off of the shutter button as he was trying to find the perfect photograph of her for his project. She also thinks he will have no problems finishing the effort — which Goldfield said he’d like to show at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. — because 100-year-olds aren’t that hard to find.
“We’re living to be lots, lots older than the people who were born 10 years before us did,” Goodrich said.
Editor’s note: This article has been corrected. In the original version, the location of the National Portrait Gallery was misstated. The Bulletin regrets the error.
— Reporter: 541-617-7816, firstname.lastname@example.org