Sandpoint native hits 100 years

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  • (Courtesy photo) Helen Callaway

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    (Courtesy photo) Helen Sonya Turinsky Callaway, who turns 100 years old Sunday, is pictured from her college years in the lower center photograph.

  • (Courtesy photo) Helen Callaway

  • 1

    (Courtesy photo) Helen Sonya Turinsky Callaway, who turns 100 years old Sunday, is pictured from her college years in the lower center photograph.

SANDPOINT — Even after her father took a job as a groundskeeper at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Helen Sonya Turinsky Callaway couldn't get Sandpoint out of her blood.

Callaway was born in Sandpoint on Dec. 10, 1917 and is preparing to turn 100 years old on Sunday. She was raised on Rural Route 1, which is now Gooby Road, where she lived until she was 7 years old. Many years later, she purchased property in Sandpoint where she would enjoy time with family in her hometown.

"She loved spending the summers here," said Callaway's daughter, Becky Benavides.

While in Moscow, Callaway attended college at UI where she met her husband, George Callaway. Her parents eventually moved back to Sandpoint after her father, Otto Turinsky, was honored by UI as "Gardener Emeritus" upon his retirement in 1952. Callaway had two brothers, Andy and Otto Turinsky, who raised their families in the Sandpoint area as well.

Benavides said her mom always remembered her early years in Sandpoint. One story Benavides recalled her mom telling dates back to when Callaway attended class in little one-room schoolhouse on Great Northern Road.

"There was a blizzard and my uncle Andy rode down on the horse to get her," Benavides said.

And as they rode home, she said, he tucked her inside his coat to shield her from the wind and snow.

In 1997, Callaway wrote a book about her family and growing up in Sandpoint. The publication, titled "I Remember" was published locally by Duane Parsons and Benavides said there was a copy at the Bonner County History Museum. She wrote about Great Northern School and even recalled the names of some of the students, including Carl and Tosca Berg, Rob Leslie, Bud Ingram, Hill Woodard, the Sturmer children Anne, Paul and Augusta, and Emma Schoenwald.

"Our neighborhood families were a marvelous mix of cultures, all striving to make a living by farming and working in the mills and woods," Callaway wrote in the book. "All were trying to educate their children for a better life."

And speaking of education, Callaway also has photo of her and George Callaway at college graduation. Below the photo she wrote, "At graduation in 1939, George and I were already secretly married." Benavides said her grandmother knew they eloped, but no one else did.

After college, George Callaway went into the Navy, so the couple settled down in California where Helen Callaway worked in the shipyard in San Francisco.

"She is a very smart woman; very innovative — just an amazing woman," Benavides said.

They had two children, Benavides and her brother, and bought the 25-acre property in Sandpoint in the 1960s. It was around 1980 when they built a log cabin on the property. Callaway now has three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren as well.

Benavides said after she got married and had children, they would come stay at the cabin for a few weeks at a time. Benavides now lives in the cabin year-round, and Callaway lives with her son in Southern California.

Benavides is heading to California this week, as it has been about six years since Callaway has made the trip north to visit her beloved hometown.

Mary Malone can be reached by email at mmalone@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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