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Try everything, enjoy the simple things

by ELLI GOLDMAN HILBERT
Staff Writer | February 14, 2022 1:06 AM

HAYDEN — For centenarian Max Lane, the key to a long life is simply going with the flow.

“I’ve had a lot of good times, and a lot of bad times,” said Lane Tuesday, during an interview with The Press. “I just mixed it all together, and went on my way,”

Lane, a 14-year Coeur d’Alene resident, celebrated his 100th birthday Feb. 2.

Lane has been alive since the year Readers Digest began publication, Haribo created the gummy bear and Walgreens first introduced the malted milkshake. The most famous person in America that year was quite possibly Babe Ruth. Also that year, Betty White was born and the Rose Bowl Stadium opened in Pasadena, Calif.

A lot has changed in the past century, but the bright-eyed, soft-spoken Lane enjoys the simple pleasures in life. A little TV news, some classical music and hot chocolate are daily staples for him, said Faith Broughton, activities director at Wellspring Meadows Assisted Living Facility, where Lane has lived for the past year.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” Lane said Tuesday, relaxing in his chair and sipping a chocolate Ensure.

Lane was born in Little Falls, Minn., and was one of nine children. Growing up during the Great Depression was difficult for the family.

All except the youngest child, were "eventually farmed out to other families where they worked to provide food and shelter for themselves," said Nick DeRose, Lane's nephew.

"Max ran away more than once," DeRose said. "On one occasion, one of the older boys rode onto the farm Max was at, on his motorcycle. He grabbed Max and got him out of there."

Lane joined the Navy, graduating from boot camp in 1942. As an aircraft mechanic, Lane served during World War II, at various bases throughout the Pacific Theater. Proudly displayed in his room is the black and white image of his graduating unit. When asked what year it was taken, Lane didn't skip a beat.

Following his military service, Lane went into the refrigeration business, with his brother Harry, in southern California. Eventually, Lane had acquired substantial equipment and several trucking contracts. He left the refrigeration business, setting out on his own to start a small trucking company.

"That was about the time, at age 16, that I developed a closer relationship with him, by accompanying him on trips," DeRose said. "Especially in the summers."

In the early 1970s, Lane and his late wife, Ann Frances, moved to Missoula, Mont., and raised three sons: Michael, Patrick and Frederick, who he speaks with, on the phone, regularly, he said.

“I did so many things, I couldn’t mention them all,” Lane said, reflecting on his life’s experiences.

Lane was also an avid hunter, DeRose said.

"For a number of years he also packed hunting parties into the mountains," DeRose said. "He had a couple of horses, two mules and all the gear necessary for small to medium sized groups."

Never one to shy away from opportunity, Lane tried everything that presented itself to him.

“I tried to do anything — if you think you can accomplish it, take it on,” Lane said. “A lot of stuff fell into my lap, and a lot of stuff didn’t. I had to make it (happen).”

Lane's last major business enterprise was building a water hauling truck designed to assist in firefighting operations. This was during the early 2000s when wildfires in Montana destroyed 600,000 acres. Lane was in his mid-eighties then, DeRose said. Lane had state contracts to help in the fire-fighting efforts for several years.

To celebrate Lane's 100th birthday, DeRose and his wife, Debby, drove from Mount Vernon, Wash. Lane's son Fred, arrived from Missoula, Mont. Several other friends came as well to celebrate during a number of get-togethers orchestrated over a few days, DeRose said.

Lane's youngest sister, Marcey Stanton, is 95. She and Lane visit on the phone often, DeRose said.

One who relishes peace and quiet, Lane doesn't have an inclination for further exploring. He thinks of Coeur d'Alene as a "little rural town," he said. Lane is content in the calmness of his daily routine.

Wellspring Meadows has two house animals — a cat called Mama Kitty and a golden retriever named Molly. They are obvious fans of Lane, who has been a lifelong animal lover, he said. Mama Kitty typically sleeps with him, and Molly can routinely be found resting at his feet.

Lane’s advice for other aspiring centenarians is simple.

“Just do what I did,” Lane said. “Maybe you’ll live as long as I have.”

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ELLI GOLDMAN HILBERT/Press

Centenarian Max Lane, an obvious dog lover, pets Molly, the house golden retriever at Wellspring Meadows Assisted Living Facility in Hayden, Tuesday. Reflecting on his 100 years of life, Lane matter-of-factly shared his best advice.

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Photo courtesy of Nick DeRose

From left: Max Lane, and his nephew Nick DeRose, during a visit in August of 2021.