SASi seniors featured in ‘Nine over Ninety’ calendar

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From left, SASi senior Darrell Ewing, EMT Kelvin Hunt, and SASi Senior L.R. “Vegas” Hinrichs show off their photos in the 2018 “Nine over Ninety and More” calendar created by Sandpoint Area Seniors, Inc., featuring seniors in their 90s and Bonner County EMS staff. (Photo by MARY MALONE)

SANDPOINT — Every person in their 90s is bound to have some good stories to tell.

Take Darrell Richard Ewing, for example, who is from a notable Idaho pioneer family.

"My great-grandfather founded Bonners Ferry," Ewing said.

His great-grandfather, Richard Fry, was an explorer on the Wild Horse Trail and built the first trading post and ferry in Bonners Ferry. For that reason, and because he will turn 96-years-young on April 25, Ewing is featured under April of the Sandpoint Area Seniors, Inc., "Nine over Ninety and More" calendar holding up his Idaho Pioneer Certificate with pride.

Ewing and the Fry family grew up in Bonners Ferry along the Kootenai River. He worked various jobs throughout his life, he said, but mainly served as a heavy equipment operator in construction and logging. He started spending time at the senior center about 25 years ago he said. He moved to Sandpoint from Bonners in 1976, and said he never imagined his life anywhere else.

"I love it up here," he said. "This is the most beautiful part of the United States, I think, is right here."

Also pictured with Ewing in the calendar is Lisa Hull, an EMT with Bonner County EMS, who was also raised in Bonners Ferry.

BCEMS staff are featured with seniors for each month of the calendar as well. The EMTs stop by the center each Thursday for free blood pressure checks, said EMT Kelvin Hunt, who is pictured with 97-year-old Millie Riggs in July.

"We really appreciate coming over and enjoy the (seniors') company," Hunt said.

As far as being in the calendar, he was a bit apprehensive at first, but once he did it, he said it was "a lot of fun." He went to Riggs' house and played Scrabble, and said he enjoyed spending time with her.

The Daily Bee also caught up with L.R. "Vegas" Hinrichs, 90, who is pictured with a grin as he took BCEMS Captain David Ramsey for all he had in a game of cards. As the seniors were featured under their respective birthday months, Hinrichs is under August as well as being chosen for the calendar's cover photo.

Unlike Ewing, Hinrichs has only lived in the area for about 11 years. His nickname goes back to the 1940s, he said, when his grandmother became ill. From Las Vegas, Hinrichs showed up in Raymond, Wash., where his grandmother lived, driving a 1932 Ford Hot Rod with the words "Las Vegas Wildcats" on it.

"I had a '32 Ford hot rod and it had 'Las Vegas Wildcats' on it," Hinrichs said. "My last name is Hinrichs and they couldn't pronounce it, so pretty soon, I was 'Vegas."

Soon after, he and three others joined the Merchant Marines, he said, and the nickname just stuck.

"I've had it tattooed on my arm since 1945," he said.

After joining the Merchant Marines, Hinrichs said over the course of 23 years, he visited every country that had a seaport. He is active in SASi activities, such as weekly bingo and pinochle.

Janet Vetter, featured in November, is a daily participant in SASi activities. She also plays pinochle each week and is an active member of the Red Hat Rascals. Vetter said she was one of the first Red Hat members.

Described in the calendar as "quick witted," she is quick to say she is 39 as she transposes the numbers of her real age. She was born in November 1924, in Hurley, S.D. She then lived in Spokane where she worked at Old National Bank, retiring in 1986. It was about four years later, she said, that she and her husband moved to Sandpoint. It was a bit closer to their two kids who lived in Montana.

"We drove through Sandpoint so often and it just appealed to us for some reason," Vetter said.

She is a Methodist, she said, and the church and senior center were right across the street from each other. She has been going to SASi nearly every day since she moved to Sandpoint. In addition to other weekly activities, she has her blood pressure checked by the EMTs each Thursday.

"I appreciate the EMTs," Vetter said. "I appreciate them taking my blood pressure. I take it to the doctor's office and it is a much truer report than if I try to do it myself."

And the calendar is "wonderful," Vetter said. Ellen Weissman, executive director of SASi, said Vetter was one of the inspirations for the calendar.

"It's been amazing and inspiring to get to know the elders more," Weissman said.

The calendar is dedicated to Erval Rainey, the "granddaddy of SASi," who died in January 2017. He had an "amazing sense of humor and was just a sweet soul," Weisman said.

The calendars are available at SASi, 820 Main St., for a $15 donation.

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

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