GIFFORD — Chris Rocker is celebrating his 100th birthday with an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 1, in the banquet room of the Country Health Nursing Home in Gifford.
Mr. Rocker was born June 1, 1919.
He lives in the Gifford community.
He has belonged to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church his whole life and served on the church council.
He married the former Anna Osterbur on Aug. 11, 1940. They were married for 62 years.
Mr. Rocker played baseball as a teenager, pitching in the local town leagues. That was his passion, and he still enjoys the Chicago Cubs to this day.
When he was 16 years old, he wanted a car but did not have the money to buy one. His parents could not afford a car for him.
So Mr. Rocker did some research and learned from his uncle he could make money trapping. He bought traps and began trapping in the ditches around the Gifford area. That summer he made more than $300 trapping and used it to buy a Model A Ford for $150.
When he was 11 years old he started farming along with his father, using a team of horses and a two-bottom plow. He said he walked many miles behind the horses when he was farming.
When he was old enough to go to high school, his teacher told his parents he was a very smart boy and should attend. But his father said no because he had to stay and work on the farm.
The Rockers have five children: Eileen (Kenny) Baker Owens of Howard, Colo., Leon Rocker of Gifford, Pauline (Michael) Rocker Clements of St. Joseph, Lois Rocker Forster of Washington D.C., and Patty (Terry) Rocker Evans of Mahomet; six grandchildren; 14 great-grandchldren and eight great-great-grandchild.
The following appeared in Jim Rossow’s Top of the Morning column in Wednesday’s News-Gazette.
Good news, Cubs fans.
Chris Rocker, who has been around for more of their games than most any other Cubs fan in our area, likes their chances this season.
“If they keep playing they way they have been,” the soon-to-be-100-year-old said, “there is a good chance they could win (it all).”
Rocker hits 100 on Saturday and plans to celebrate with family and friends in Gifford, his lifelong home.
After Game 7 in 2016, he had a beer. Who knows what’ll happen this weekend?
— He didn’t think he’d reach 100 but credits his strong finish to walking, riding bikes with his grandsons, an unmatched work ethic and “faith in God,” he said.
— He loves to tell the story of Flatville’s John Franzen, inviting Cardinals Hall of Famer Dizzy Dean to Gifford to “pitch a couple innings” in an exhibition baseball game that drew a huge crowd.
— His favorite president? “President Roosevelt because he was elected after the Depression and he brought the country back on the right track,” he said.
— Meeting “the love of (my) life, Anna Osterbur Rocker, ranks as one of his best memories. They were married 62 years and raised five kids. A close second: buying the family farm back for his parents. It remains a family treasure today.