Centenarian Pearline Beltram passed away Tuesday evening in Bend, Oregon, after spending 37,122 days on earth — she was 101. She lived the final decade of her extraordinarily long life in assisted living, finally crossing over at Fox Hollow.
Pearline was born in 1919, near Broken Bow, Oklahoma to the proud parents of Marvin Harding Thomasson and Mary Elizabeth Macauley. She was the second of six children, all of whom preceded her into the afterlife, and she stayed close with her one surviving sister-in-law, Dalphene Thomasson of Prineville, until she passed just weeks ago.
Pearline attended schools in the Hatfield, Arkansas area, and spent her early life in a number of Arkansas communities where her father worked in the logging and sawmill industries. She spoke of her first “paying” job as a cook and cleaner at Ellison’s Cafe and Boarding House in Mena, Arkansas. “The pay wasn’t much,” she recalled, “But I met a lot of great people.” One of the greatest, no doubt, was a handsome young man by the name of Joseph Beltram. Joe later recalled being drawn by the way she cooked as well as the way she looked, and when they became acquainted a lifelong bond and friendship quickly developed.
Joe and Pearline were married June 21, 1938 at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Krebs, Oklahoma, and settled on a small farm near Richville. Pearline kept house while Joe made ends meet, and by May of 1939 she began her new full-time job of raising four boys (first James, then Alfred and Thomas, and finally Kevin in 1959.)
In 1946 they waved goodbye to “home” — as they would forever call it — loaded their three young boys and stacked every worldly possession into the bed of a 1937 Ford pickup. They departed on an epic 2,000+ mile journey to Oregon, where Pearline’s parents needed support after her father had a logging injury. History has painted trips like theirs in nostalgic tones, but the reality was harsh, and after braving two thousand miles in the bed of a ’37 pickup, primitive roads and jeers from callous onlookers, the boys (and their parents) had weathered a passage they would never forget.
Ultimately Pearline and Joe created a new home for their family in Prineville, where they hand built neighboring houses for themselves and Pearline’s parents. She was a member of St.Josephs Catholic Church from 1950 to 2008, staying active in the Altar Society and working on the annual Ham Dinner committee from its inception.
Always industrious and ambitious, Pearline held several jobs outside the home, including a stint as head cook at Ochoco Grade School, running her own government office cleaning business (assisted by her sons), and serving as a nurse’s aid in convalescent homes for over ten years.
Pearline loved to knit, crochet, and quilt, and generously shared the fruits of her labor with her kids, grandkids and friends. She and Joe lowered the trout population in Ochoco and Prineville reservoirs for years, until a rattlesnake encounter dampened their enthusiasm. She canned fruits, jams and vegetables, and the ever-active couple cut, hauled and stacked their own firewood well into their 80’s.
Pearline and Joe’s marriage stood the test of time and the trials of life for nearly seven decades, from 1938 until Joe’s passing, at 98, in 2006She will be missed by her four sons and daughters-in-law, James & Marlene Beltram (McMinnville, OR), Al & Rosanne Beltram (Albany, OR), Thomas & Beverly Beltram (Rio Vista, CA), and Kevin & Linda Beltram (Bend, OR). She was also very proud of her nine grandchildren and ten great grandchildren.
Pearline, who asked that there be no funeral service, will be laid quietly to rest at Juniper Haven, with family in attendance. In lieu of flowers, please send donations in her name to: St. Joseph’s Altar Society, 150 E. First Street, Prineville, OR 97754
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