Lebanon icon celebrates 100th birthday among family and friends

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local

Dec. 27, 2022, was a blustery day in Lebanon, with gusts of wind reaching a reported 24 mph in the afternoon.
But it was also Dorothy (Bohle) Page’s 100th birthday, and a little wind wasn’t going to stop about 80 people from visiting her – and that was just one of two parties held in her honor.
Weather did, however, prevent her son, Larry, from attending when his flight from California was canceled, but Page said her son plans to visit soon and bring more family members who also couldn’t make it.
Her daughter, Carol Thorburn, and several other family members were on hand, though, to host the festivities at The Oaks at Lebanon retirement home, where folks from the community and facility dropped by to wish the centenarian a happy birthday.
“It was just a really nice feeling about being glad to see people I hadn’t seen for a long time,” Page said about the parties. “I think I knew everybody that came or knew who they were related to, and it was just so much fun to see who they grew up to be.”

People wait in line to greet the birthday girl (sitting at left).

It might be appropriate to label Page a notable Lebanon icon, given the number of people who came and literally formed a line for a chance to chat with her and hand her a card. Having lived in the city her entire life – and born just 75 years after it was founded – Page and her husband, Lawrence “Bud” Page, spent their lives serving youth and providing musical entertainment to the community.
“This life had to do with the growing up of our community, what the youngsters turned into,” she said.
Sally Morgan, who grew up with Page’s kids and participated in social clubs with her, planted four kisses on her head on behalf of her brothers and aunt, who could not attend the party. Morgan’s parents held a twice-monthly bridge club, she explained, and all the families would get together for outings while she was growing up.
“The kids grew up together and we called them our mothers,” Morgan said.”We could never get away with anything, ‘cause they were all over town. It was just a fun time growing up with them, and Dorothy was in the middle of it.”
Dorothy was born to Edwin (“Ed”) and Ora Bohle Dec. 27, 1922, in her family home at 309 E. Grant St., a house built for her parents in 1918. Ed Bohle, with his father and brother, owned The Lebanon Creamery Company, situated first at Oak and Grove streets from 1912 to 1928, then at 853 Main St. when they expanded to production and delivery of pasteurized milk.

DOROTHY PAGE, left, poses with long-time friend Betty Adams during her birthday celebration Dec. 27, 2022.

In 1922, preceding her birth, the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, or King Tut, was discovered; Mahatma Gandhi went to prison on a sedition charge; the Ottoman Empire fell; vegemite was invented; radio was introduced into the White House; insulin was first used to treat diabetes; the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated and the first vampire movie, “Nosferatu,” was released.
It was also the year Oregon voters supported the Compulsory Education Act, a bill reportedly sponsored by the Scottish Rite Masons, and supported by the state Ku Klux Klan and incoming governor Walter M. Pierce.
The law required not only that all children attend school, but that they also attend only public schools, effectively shutting down any Catholic, military or other private institution.
The United States Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional in 1925, ruling that “the child is not the mere creature of the state” and, thus, giving private schools a right to exist.
More locally, Dorothy was born shortly after a flood took out three Lebanon bridges and the Santiam-Albany Canal Diversion Dam, and hitching posts were replaced with parking spaces for automobiles. That year the Schuler sisters bought the Lebanon Hospital, Church of God minister Mary Jarvis became the first Linn County woman to perform a marriage ceremony and the Tallman post office shut down.
In her 100 years, she’s seen 18 presidents, multiple destructive natural disasters, approximately six “major” U.S.-involved wars, the progression of civil rights movements, a myriad of technological advances and a handful of economic plunges. Her lifetime covered the rise of radios, televisions and the Internet, and the establishment of minimum-wage requirements and social security.
She was 10 years old when prohibition of alcohol ended, 16 when World War II began, in her early 30s when racial segregation in schools was declared unconstitutional, her late 40s when man first walked on the moon and her mid-70s when Dolly the sheep was born as the first mammal cloned from an adult cell.

A party visitor signs a guest book for Dorothy while photographer Tony Hayden (in the background) snaps a photo of the guest of honor.

Growing up in Lebanon, Dorothy spent her days with friends at the skating rink or swimming in the canal, and in the summers she worked in her father’s creamery wrapping butter and packing them in 30-pound boxes.
“It was wonderful,” she said. “You could go any place in Lebanon safely. It didn’t have any crime and such. It was just kinda like a small town; the kids ran up and down the street. We could roam that town and be safe. There wasn’t going to be anything happening to us.”
But, as she looked back over her century, she said the way of life has gone more to machinery and Lebanon has gone from a newspaper town to one in which such industries as logging hired groups of people.
“We’d get a whole new bunch of people move in whenever we opened a new mill or something, and it just moved with the population,” she said.
Around the time Pearl Harbor was bombed, her courtship with Bud Page was in the works and blossoming. Bud expected to be called in to serve for the war, but a medical condition prevented it. So, instead, the two married, and Bud took on multiple coaching positions at Lebanon’s high school, where he served as coach, teacher and principal.
To this day, many who were enrolled under Bud’s leadership call him a mentor. A 2019 Lebanon Local story about the couple described the great impact Bud had on his students, some of whom tried to buck the system at times, but were guided back with his firm but affirming discipline.
“Bud was very close to his teams, so he knew the troubles they were having or what they were losing or what they were gaining,” Dorothy said. “He was very much a part of their lives.”

BUD & DOROTHY PAGE are the namesakes of many honors in Lebanon, including
the annual LHS Hall of Fame.
(contributed photo)

An award and scholarship program in their name, the Bud and Dorothy Page Lebanon High School Hall of Fame, celebrates graduates who reach an impressive level of success and raises money for the Bud Page Leadership scholarship award.
It’s said that behind every great man is a great woman. Hall of Fame committee member Edda King said in a 2019 interview that Dorothy supported her husband in everything.
“She was the traditional housewife that kept the home fires burning,” King said.
Dorothy was a supportive foundation for her husband as he branched out, reaching, teaching and training young men.
“Whatever had to do with the school came first,” she said. “We saw that it came first.”
The Pages saved gas vouchers to help transport teams to games and attended most of those, as well as dances, dramas and musical productions during Bud’s 40-year career.
In 2015, Dorothy was nominated by longtime friends Bob and Betty Adams for the Distinguished Service Senior First Citizen Award for “giving Lebanon the gift of music.” She was very musical and “pretty much a mentor to some of the younger gals at the school,” Betty said in a 2019 interview.
Morgan also attested to that fact.
“I can’t explain how wonderful Dorothy was for me, growing up with her advice and her sense of humor,” she said. “We all loved her; all the kids loved her. Dorothy was always there for all of the kids.”

THE BIRTHDAY GIRL shares a smile with a long-time friend who waited in line to visit with Dorothy at the birthday party.

Dorothy used her piano skills to accompany musical productions and played the First Presbyterian Church pipe organ for more than 80 years. She also used her talent to entertain hospitals, nursing homes, weddings and funerals.
Her community service has included stints as a Girl Scout leader and co-chair of the Strawberry Festival’s junior parade. She served on the library board, hospital auxiliary, the Presbyterian church, a junior women’s civic group, Eastern Star, Rainbow Girls, Study Club, Present Day Club, P.E.O. and Lebanon Soup Kitchen. She also helped start the first co-op nursery school.
“Don’t shut yourself away from the public, but be part of it,” Dorothy advised. “Take part in your community. When you’re physically able, do your part in the community. It might be a very small part, but just be a group part and not always just yourself. It gives you a life.”
Looking back, she said perhaps the riskiest thing she’s done was remain in Lebanon when the new high school was built in the 1950s. That’s when her husband considered taking a post elsewhere. The decision could’ve either ruined or made their lives, she said. It turned out to be a good decision.
As she answered questions for this reporter, she fixated on the former site of the Queen Anne School, which closed in 2002 after 72 years and was sold to a developer in 2006, then demolished to make room for an apartment complex. She said if she could go back in time and change anything or give herself any advice, she’d find a way to save the building.
“It was a lovely grade school and very active in doing outside things and for each other,” she said. “Somebody just thought it wasn’t important enough.”
To date, she has two children, three surviving grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, with another on the way.

Professional photo taken by Dorothy’s granddaughter, Natalie Leonnig Photo.

It is a reporter’s duty to ask one particular question when a centenarian earns the right to answer it: What’s the secret to a long life?
“As time went on, I lost a lot of friends and relatives and things like that, and I just kept going,” Dorothy replied. “I enjoyed watching all of these people grow up and have families. It was just a wonderful experience. I have no idea why I would’ve lived this long and the people that I grew up with didn’t. I probably have personal habits that protect me, but I certainly never even thought of living this long. It’s been worth every step of the way.
“It’s been an interesting, interesting life,” she continued. “I don’t have any particular goal now that I’ve gotten to 100. I don’t regret any of it. There’s some of it I wish I could’ve left out, but so far it turned out to be something I could handle.”