Teeing it up at 98
Published 2:10 am Sunday, June 1, 2008
Harwell still follows
Navy doctor’s advice
By DAN PARSONS
Fred Harwell, by his own reckoning, hasn’t shot more than a 50 each time he’s played nine holes of golf in the past three years.
For any amateur golfer who plays twice a week, that score is not so shabby. But the Washington resident didn’t begin golfing until he was 65 years old, Harwell said during an interview Friday.
That’s not the remarkable part. Consider that when the interview was conducted, Harwell was 98 years, seven months and 20 days old. Harwell’s golfing buddy, David Nash, is a youthful 81. The pair play nine holes at Washington Yacht and Country Club at least two days a week.
Harwell said he averages in the mid-40s for each nine-hole round played. At his age, there are a few aches and pains that go along with swinging a golf club, but the love of the game and keeping active prevails, according to Harwell.
It was a doctor’s order that gave him the inspiration to live for a century, Harwell said. That advice came after two stints in the Navy — one prior to and one during World War II. In 1935, before the United States entered the war, he had served four years aboard a heavy cruiser and wanted out of the Navy, Harwell said. He bounced around from job to job for a couple of years before ending up working for an insurance company in Greenville in 1938.
He married Mary Mills, a Pitt County native, before returning to the Navy for a second tour of duty— this time battling the Japanese.
Harwell sailed from San Diego, Calif., into the Pacific Theater. He spent time in the Marshall Islands and on Guadalcanal. In 1944, Harwell landed in Manila, Philippines, where he spent the rest of the war.
After the war, when he was about to retire from the Navy, Harwell had an appointment with a Navy doctor.
That’s years, not a golf score.