Longtime Fallbrook resident John Blatchley celebrated his 103rd birthday with his wife, Beverly and friends at Garden Center Café, April 5.
Beverly Blatchley said they go out for dinner occasionally; they miss El Jardin but love the Garden Center. Their friends stop by to visit and their gardens are in full bloom, "and are lovely for a little fresh air and bird watching."
Three years ago, their big plans for a large 100th birthday party had to be altered due to the coronavirus pandemic. A parade of neighbors, fire and sheriff's personnel traveled by the Blatchley's home for that celebration.
John was born in Killingsworth, Connecticut, on April 5, 1920. He went to work for Alcoa – the Aluminum Company of America – in his early 20s, where he worked through World War II, Beverly said.
John worked for the aluminum company for 40 years, most of that time spent in Connecticut, but at the tail end of his career, he transferred to the company's plant in Corona.
During the brief time he was working at the Corona plant, he commuted from West Covina, according to Beverly. In fact, the future husband and wife lived just blocks apart, she said, but they would not actually meet until both moved to Fallbrook separately.
John discovered Fallbrook simply by driving around Southern California. He decided Fallbrook was where he wanted to live out his retirement, so he built a house here.
He met Beverly at the Fallbrook Presbyterian Church in a bereavement group as both had lost their spouses and they married in 1994. Between the two of them, they have a blended family of four children, a total of 35 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and a great-great-grandchild.
John's kids, son Carl and his wife Kathy Blatchley, and daughter Marsha and her husband Ken Leahy, all live on the east coast but manage an annual visit which John really looks forward to, said Beverly.
Of the birthday lunch, Beverly said it was a "lovely time with old friends at brunch at the Garden Cafe celebrating 103 years. Dreams of the years past are the memories of today. What a wonderful journey."
Will Fritz contributed to this story.