Mr. Tarpley turns 100 years old

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Andy Thomasson, Bruce Thomasson, Sonny Tarpley and Brad Graham. Women (l-r) Vickie Thomasson, Joyce Tarpley, Emmy Graham, Grace Graham and Liz Graham.

Carl Tarpley was born on December 29, 1916. He has lived in two places for most of his life: Blue Ridge, Georgia and Salem, Virginia.  On Thursday, December 29, Mr. Tarpley celebrated his birthday inside the Salem Terrace Nursing Home with family members, staff employees and lifelong friends. When Mr. Tarpley woke up that morning, he wasn’t quite sure how he would feel. “I’m feeling really good for my age,” he said as people started to arrive. “I just appreciate my family and friends being here with me today.”

Carl talked about his upbringing, his time in the military, his wife of 76 years and his family over the course of an hour. “I was born in Georgia but I’ve lived in Salem for most of my life,” he said. “I was fortunate to have a fair job and make a fair living. Norfolk Southern was a great company to work for. I was there for thirty-eight years.” Regarding his only child Sonny, Carl jokingly said, ““Sonny was a good kid but he caused me a little trouble occasionally, especially when he got his drivers permit.”

Having family present to celebrate holidays and birthdays is nothing new for Carl Tarpley and his family. “My dad is a great father and today we are all so happy to be here to celebrate his birthday,” Sonny said. “He set a really good example for all of our family. He’s a World War II Vet. He’s just lived a good life.”

When Ed Eller presented Carl with a diploma of their great grandfather, it was an emotional moment. “Carl is my first cousin. His dad and my mom were siblings. Today I gave him a copy of our grandfather’s diploma,” Ed said. “He graduated from Kentucky College (now University of Kentucky) in 1886 with an accounting degree.” Ed added, “Carl is very easy going. I first started to get to know him around 1960 and we’ve had a great relationship ever since. I’ve never seen him upset.“

Carl was married to his late wife for seventy-six years. He was also a faithful First United Methodist Church member and served as an usher until a few years ago. He has a good reputation in the community and says he doesn’t really have any regrets.  When asked what words of wisdom he can pass along Carl simply said, “Just live a normal life and enjoy it. That’s the best advice I can give people.”