NORTH CREEK Donald Roblee turned 100 Saturday, June 2, and the Adirondack Tri-County Nursing & Rehabilitation Center threw him a party.
Roblee was born at home in North Creek on June 2, 1912, one of five sons raised in North Creek. From 1934 until joining the U.S. Air Force in 1942, he was the assistant manager of the local A&P grocery store. He recalled in those days an assistant manager had to do a lot of hands-on work, often unpacking and stocking items like 100-pound bags of potatoes and flour several times a day.
During World War II, Roblee was stationed all over England, as well as in France and Holland. He worked in chemical warfare and had the dangerous job of storing and loading hazardous materials. He often had to load the P-47 Thunderbolts for bombing missions. This was particularly exhausting because they carried 2,500 pounds of bombs. He can still recall the formula of incendiary bombs — jellied gasoline and magnesium — and the dangers of mixing ammonia and chlorine.
After returning home, Roblee worked in the supply room of Barton Mines for 20 years. During that time, he met and married local resident Louise Freeburn, who passed away 10 years ago. She was a third-grade teacher who for many years worked at Warrensburg Central School. It was during her time there that the couple temporarily lived in Warrensburg. Roblee recalled that she was always well liked by her students, who knew that she had no qualms about keeping them after if they misbehaved. While the couple never had children, they had many nieces and nephews — “too many to count,” Roblee said with a big smile.
It was one of his nieces who shared how, at the age of 94, he achieved a long-cherished dream: to own a Toyota SUV. He loved and took excellent care of it, driving it everywhere. It wasn’t until after arriving home from a trip to Glens Falls four years later that they realized he was legally blind. As he walked in the door, he told them that he had forgotten to wear his glasses but hadn’t noticed the difference at all. It was this same year that he moved into the Adirondack Tri-County Nursing Home, where he was been a popular and well-liked resident over the past two years.
Asked what the secret of living to 100 was, he thought for a moment before replying: “Don’t plan ahead, just watch out for yourself and take care of each day.”