Wetaskiwin local Roscoe Grant is marking this pandemic, a milestone historical event, with a major milestone birthday. Although pared back because of COVID-19 restrictions, Roscoe celebrated his 100th birthday on Feb.17, 2021.
Roscoe is well known around the community and is always willing to lend a helping hand to those who need it.
Roscoe is still very involved at the Wetaskiwin Moose lodge and he and his late wife Shirley were always the first to step in around the community to help work bingos.
Neil Grant, Roscoe’s son, says that Roscoe and Shirley would get a call from somebody needing their assistance for a bingo and, “they would drop everything and go.”
“They were very community oriented,” says Neil.
Roscoe’s passion for giving back to his community and others goes all the way back to WWII. In fact, Roscoe has even received an award for giving back through blood donation. Roscoe started donating blood in WWII and continued to donate blood regularly for the next 40 years. Roscoe received his award for donating over 100 pints of blood, and was extremely disappointed when the Red Cross told him at the age of 67 that he would no longer be able to donate. Neil says that’s just in his dad’s spirit, to keep giving until he is forced to stop.
Roscoe and Shirley also owned and operated a catering business for around 30 years which kept them consistently busy – but that didn’t stop them from helping on the farm.
“They were doing catering and farming on top of it,” Neil says. He looks back fondly, remembering times where his parents would be helping in the field and then literally stop their machinery, and run from the field because they had to get to a catering job.
Roscoe hasn’t let his age slow him down, and just this past year was driving the combine at the age of 99 to help Neil during harvest at his farm.
“Farming is always first and foremost on his mind,” says Neil. He says at 99-years-old Roscoe still climbed the combine steps with ease.
Neil says that the long days and hours of harvest weren’t a difficult obstacle for Roscoe, including when, “we had both combines on the field for an 11 hour day… He’s a great combine driver.”
What does Roscoe do to keep his spirits up on the combine? “He loves eating chocolates in his combine,” says Neil.
In addition to his love for farming, Roscoe loves to go for his daily coffees at A&W in Wetaskiwin.
To Roscoe the worst part about the pandemic was when A&W and other restaurants were closed to dine-in because he couldn’t go sit with his friends for his daily coffees in the morning and afternoon.
“The hardest part for him was when they shut the coffee shops down,” says Neil.
Neil says that Roscoe, his family, and friends jokingly call the group of seniors that meet for coffee the Senate because that is where all the conversations over important subjects are being had.
Now that his coffee spot is open, Roscoe is back to his routine of going for his daily coffees in addition to his walks at Neil’s farm which he did to occupy his time during lockdown.
To celebrate his 100th birthday Roscoe received plenty of birthday cards and well wishes from his coffee friends and was greeted in the evening with a drive-by parade from the Wetaskiwin Fire Service and Millet’s Peace Officer.
“There were over 30 vehicles that went by,” Neil says.
In addition to his birthday parade, Roscoe received a certificate from Mayor Tyler Gandam, whom Roscoe considers to be a close family friend, to mark the accomplishment of turning 100-years-old. Mayor Gandam presented the certificate on behalf of the City of Wetaskiwin.
Although it was a big birthday to celebrate, the in-person celebrations were minimal. “He says he doesn’t want anybody getting sick because of a stupid birthday,” Neil says. Roscoe wanted to make sure that everybody was safe and celebrated his birthday in a way that didn’t put anybody at risk for COVID-19.
Roscoe has seen enough in life that a pandemic won’t get him down. Roscoe still plans to continue to help out on the farm, keep his yard immaculately cared for, and take his daily coffee breaks; after all, he is only 100-years-young.