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111-Year Old Member Dies

April 2005 IBEW Journal

Earl Brush was born in 1893 only two years after the founding of the IBEW and was initiated into the Brotherhood in 1943 at age 54. Brother Brush died in San Leandro, California, on January 10 at the remarkable age of 111. At his death, he was the oldest resident of California and tied with two other men as the oldest in the world, according to the Guinness World Records.

Naomi McCray, 88, Brush’s daughter, told the Oakland Tribune: "This country is 228 years old; our dad was almost half that age. That’s pretty amazing." Brush’s pastor, Delmar Lawson, of Aurora Drive Baptist Church, said: "He was a man of strong faith and I think that’s one of the reasons why he lived so long." Brush told his daughter that his long life was the product of not smoking or drinking, good genetics and staying married to his wife, Eva, for 67 years, before she died in 1981.

Born in Marshall, Iowa, Brush moved with his family to Minnesota at age 17 where he worked as a potato farmer and trained as a tractor mechanic. During the Great Depression, he managed a Montgomery Ward store in Iowa.

In 1943, after relocating to California, Brush was initiated as an "A" member of Local 593. He began collecting his pension in 1968 at age 75 from his final employer, Southern Pacific Railroad, as a member of Local 360.

McCray told the Tribune that her father collected items of interest from railroad and waterfront history at the Southern Pacific salvage yards. Price says that Brush had several railroad lanterns and an iron ore cart among a houseful of antiques that are still being sold off by a professional.

He loved cars and drove the first car that he ever purchased, a 1913 Maxwell Overlong, until he was 100 years old. Even after he could no longer drive on city streets, Brush drove the car up and down his long driveway, says family friend, Bill Price.

Despite his extraordinary age, Brush played checkers and read the newspaper, doing the crossword puzzle every day until he was 109. He was a die-hard baseball fan; listen to Oakland Athletics’ ball games with his radio sitting on his stomach, said Price.

Senior centers and other organizations honored Brush, in his later years, for his life well lived.