Ansell “Morey” Morehouse turned 100 years old on July 10 and friends Eric Beal and Bob Cook of American Legion Post 99 want to lead the celebration.
The great Seaside chronicler Claire Lovell — Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons rolled up into one — wrote this of Morehouse:
“Ansell Morehouse knows dozens of stories. As some of you may know, Morey once played ‘golf’ with Jack Kennedy in Manchester, Massachusetts, when they were about 17 and 19 years old, respectively. They buried Campbell’s soup cans in the grass for cups and used Jack’s clubs to play around the ‘course.’”
Morehouse came to Oregon as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the nationwide public works program as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, instituted in the 1930s. Corps projects included Ecola State Park, which opened in 1936; the Sunset Highway; even the fire lookout on Saddle Mountain.
Morehouse entered World War II with the U.S. Merchant Marine and later the Navy, where he met his wife, Sandy, standing “4-foot-10 and about 90 pounds,” according to Cook.
After the war, Morehouse moved to Seaside permanently, where he raised a son, Rick, and worked as a salesman for Roehm’s Furniture.
Morehouse had been a bosun’s mate in the Navy and had a Navy expression for every problem on the job, family member Jeff Roehm said.
“We hired Morey away from Cam Larsen’s grocery mostly because my mother, who passed away in 1951, really liked him. He was our first employee along with Harvey Brooks who didn’t have the name ‘Roehm.’”
Morey Morehouse, front right; Gene Roehm, center; the man at left is unidentified. While undated, Jeff Roehm believes it is from the late 1940…
Roehm remembers Morehouse as “always happy and upbeat and really fun to work with, my first ‘boss’ when I worked for my dad back in the mid-50s.”
Morehouse started calling bingo for the American Legion when the post was “out on the Prom,” Cook said, on the top floor of the natatorium building at the Turnaround.
Bingo raised so much money that Legion members devoted resources to the property it stands on today, at 1315 Broadway.
Cook credits Morehouse, along with John Raniero, Frank Roshay and Les Morris, among many, for the purchase of 18 lots at the eastern end of Broadway, before a bridge spanned the Neawanna River.
Volunteers came up with some creative ideas during the Legion’s construction. “Every time the tide would come in or out, the soil came out,” Cook said. “Refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers and anything possible was used as riprap to stop the erosion.”
Morehouse took care of his wife, Sandy, at home for 13 years, doing everything for her, columnist Lovell wrote in 2008. “She had several physical problems, any one of which could have been fatal, but he was such a good nurse to her that she lived happily and well for many extra years.”
When Sandy Morehouse entered assisted living, Morey Morehouse became a “den father” to other residents, Cook added. “He took care of her, then talked to everybody else in the home. He knew everybody in the county because he called bingo for 50 years.”
A former fire department volunteer, Seaside Fire Div. Chief Chris Dugan describes Morehouse “as a member of the department when the volunteerism was true.”
Everybody, from the chief to the brand new firefighters, were volunteers, Dugan said. “There was no money involved. Any money that went to the fire department went to the equipment and the building. The city did their part, but it really relied on volunteers to get that fire department going. Like Roscoe Larkins, Clarence Owens — and even as late as Glenn Bard and George Larfield — he fits into the names of the history of the department.”
Morehouse entered Suzanne Elise in 2014, where he lives today.
Morehouse’s son Rick and his daugher-in-law, military veterans, both died as a result of exposure to Agent Orange, Cook said.
After the death of Pearl Harbor survivor Bill Thomas, who died at age 95 in December 2016, Morehouse unofficially became Seaside’s oldest living veteran.
At Suzanne Elise, Morehouse is surrounded by friends and supporters. Judy Pesonen helps with his care, with companionship from community members like Beal, Cook, Roehm and Dugan, among many others.
Happy 100th to Ansell “Morey” Morehouse, a salute to a remarkable achievement.