October 23, 2018

King for a century

AuGres man to celebrate 100th birthday

AuGRES — It’s been a century in the making, but Fred Sheill is celebrating his 100th birthday this Sunday at the AuGres Knights of Columbus Hall (behind H&H Bakery) with family and friends.

According to his son Donn, who lives with his wife in Tellico, Tenn., the party is a potluck dinner and runs from 5 – 8 p.m. H&H Bakery is providing meats, place settings, beverages and the cake.

“Everyone is invited,” Donn said. “They even sent out invitations with the water bills in AuGres.”

According to Donn, his father will be featured on the Today Show this Friday on Willard Scott’s Smuckers segment, in which he wishes Centenarians “Happy Birthday.” In addition, Fred will receive greetings from President George W. Bush and his wife Laura along with Governor Jennifer Granholm.

Fred says he is very lucky to have lived 100 years.

“I’ve done pretty much everything I’ve wanted to do,” Fred said.

He says he was born on Oct. 31, 1908, in Detroit, to William and Rose Sheill, where he lived for the first 15 years of his life as his father began working as a Laundry Man on his own route in 1915, servicing the new area industries such as General Motors.

“Then in 1922, we moved to a small town of about 2,200 people called Farmington,” Fred said. “I lived there until about 20 years ago when I moved up here (to AuGres).”

While living in the Farmington area, Fred says that he had many jobs, most of which he was his own boss. Being his own boss was his preference and something he says isn’t taught to young people anymore.

“When I was growing up, we were always taught to go into business for ourselves,” Fred said. “Now they teach you to go into a job for a company.

“Whenever I get a chance, I like to teach youngsters how to make money for themselves.”

According to Fred, he owned a nursery with his wife of 52 years, Gladys. They owned and operated the commercial plant production com-pany for 32 years.

“We started by growing a few potted plants and sold them by the highway,” Fred said. “Soon after, there were about 13 nurseries along the highway and when we finally retired there was only one other.”

He also says he’s had countless other odd jobs such as scrapping metal, mail order operations and an inspector for gears at Pontiac Motors during World War II.

“I’ve had hundreds of jobs,” Fred said. “I even had a square dancing corporation for retired people and made jewelry out of gems and stones I collected in my travels with Gladys.

“I’ve also raised lots of animals throughout the years.”

Since moving to AuGres, Fred has started a daylily (relative of the Tiger Lily) plantation of over 200,000 lilies, which has earned him the nickname “Daylily King.”

“Daylilies are a great business because they double their production each year,” Fred said. “I cultivate the land on my own and it’s a good way to meet new people.

He also says he creates and prints about 50,000 brochures by himself on his computer to advertise his operation.

“I travel all over Michigan, about 3,000 miles each Spring, and leave 100 brochures at each business I go to,” Fred said. “Five years ago I used to print about 100,000 and travel to five different states.”

In November 1991, Fred, at the request of friends, decided to write a book of short stories about his life’s events. The book entitled “The Memory Train” offers readers insight to his childhood, careers and family spanning over 80 years.

“I wrote the book on my own using a typewriter and computer,” Fred said.

Today, Fred spends his time tending his daylilies, raising five geese (which he’s taught to be nice to people) and feeding the possums at night.

“Every night at 9 p.m. I feed the possums,” Fred said. “They eat anything.”

He also says he just renewed his drivers’ license for the next three years.

Donn says that his father also recently taught himself how to use computers and play the piano.

Learn more about Fred's life in the Oct. 29 edition of "The Arenac County Independent."


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