Arta at her cottage at Regency in Oak Harbor. She said she’s excited to turn 100. (Photo by Maria Matson/Whidbey News-Times)

Arta at her cottage at Regency in Oak Harbor. She said she’s excited to turn 100. (Photo by Maria Matson/Whidbey News-Times)

New centenarian enjoys a big birthday bash

Arta Sandstrom has lived through a century.

“My whole life has been so wonderful,” she said.

Her birthday was Wednesday, May 8, and her family, friends and Regency on Whidbey threw her a big bash on May 4.

Sandstrom lives in one of Regency on Whidbey’s cottages.

Born in Wessington, S.D., Sandstrom is one of seven siblings. Her mother died when she was 5, and her father remarried a woman Sandstrom describes as a “wonderful stepmother.”

Life wasn’t so easy back then — they lived in South Dakota during the time of the Dust Bowl, moving to Seattle in 1936, during the Great Depression.

Everything was dark outside in the Dust Bowl, Sandstrom said, not a tree in sight, and people had to put damp cloths on the windows.

“It was so beautiful when I came up (to Seattle),” she said. “I couldn’t believe it when we hit the Northwest. It was so beautiful.”

At age 17, after graduating high school, she got a job in Seattle working as a nanny for a pharmacist’s three children, eventually working in his store. Later, she worked as a trust officer at Seattle First Interstate Bank.

She was active in the local Methodist church, singing in the choir, where she met her husband, George. They married in 1940 and remained married until his death 63 years later. They adopted two children, Karen and Gregory. Today, Sandstrom is a grandmother.

In 1985, Sandstrom and her husband moved to Greenbank, where they had a summer home for many years.

She moved to Regency six years ago, where she has since lived with her partner of many years, Capron Coe. Coe describes Sandstrom as someone with with “many, many friends.”

“The fresh air, the calm way of living,” are some of the things Sandstrom said she enjoys about living on Whidbey Island.

Sandstrom attributes her long life to following the golden rule, moderation, being happy, loving everyone and good genes — her father lived to be 102.

“I’m pretty much now just living my life and that’s enough,” she said.

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