Frank Kime sits on his couch, surrounded by plaques sent to him by various government agencies and one from Queen Elizabeth II. The plaques commemorate a significant achievement in his life – on Sept. 7, Kime turned 100.
He attributes his fiery spirit to this feat. “You’ve just got to be ornery enough, that’s the main thing,” said Kime. “Just be too damn ornery to give up.”Kime’s ornery nature may have helped him navigate living in a retirement home during a global pandemic.
“We had to stay by ourselves and have our meals delivered for quite a while” said Kime. COVID outbreaks have been prevalent in numerous Saskatchewan care homes including Wintergreene Estates in Regina, where Kime lives.
Kime is one of only a handful of centenarians in the building. He was born on a farm just outside of Milestone and quickly joined the Navy at the age of 18. Although the Second World War was well underway, Kime never did serve overseas.
“I signed up for war in the pacific, but it all faded out just before we were ready to go,” he said. However, he did have a close call with death while serving in Boston.
“We went ashore that night and there were a bunch of dizzy Americans egging us on,” said Kime. “I finally decked one of them. They beat the crap out of me and threw me for dead in the ditch.” After returning from his service, Kime continued to work on his family farm during the warmer months and in the winter worked at a brewery in Regina.
“When I was there, the other guy and I had to wash down all the equipment in there with [flammable] gas,” exclaimed Kime. “They could have lost the whole goddamn place.” He continued on his farm for most of his working life. In 2013, Kime and his wife moved into Wintergreene. She passed away in 2019, so Kime now lives alone.
Kime combats loneliness by keeping involved in the community. “He’s interested in everybody and everything” said Brian Mahoney, a friend of Kimes.
Staying involved keeps Kime going, day in and day out. “If you’re not interested [in things], why the hell bother living?”, said Kime. He spends his days playing bridge with other residents, cribbage with his nephew and every once in a while, paying a visit to where it all stared 100 years ago.
When his daughter is willing to take him, Kime returns to the unfinished business he has at the farm. “I’ve still got probably, oh about 12 or15 five-gallon pails of potatoes to dig up out there,” said Kime with a smile.
Reaching the century mark is no small feat. According to Statistics Canada’s 2021 census, only 55 Regina citizens are at least 100 years old and only 10 of those are men. When asked why that might be, Kime was frank.
“There too many boozers amongst us [men],” he said with a laugh.