BC man eyes second century
By Dave Rogers
For The Record
Talk about having his dance card punched.
Retired Bridge City plumber and pipefitter John Repasky just celebrated Valentine’s Day with his wife Sue and in April, the couple will celebrate 71 years of marriage.
But first, there’s March 1, next Wednesday.
It’s when John turns the big 1-oh-oh.
As in 100. A century.
“I never thought I’d get that far,” said the man born a month before the U.S. joined World War I.
“But here I am.”
John and his 92-year-old bride live in a sunny well-kept home and stay busy with trips to the store and two breakfasts a week with friends at the Bridge City McDonald’s.
“I don’t know if you’d say there’s a secret,” John said, when asked his secret of longevity.
“A whole lot depends on the man up there,” he said, nodding to the sky, “and you have to have a pretty good wife.”
“Not pretty good,” Sue interjects.
“You’d better say a good wife.”
The Repaskys will celebrate John’s 100th on Saturday, March 4, with a get-together for family, friends and neighbors, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 770 Avenue A, in Bridge City.
John wasn’t always sure he’d make it to 2017.
Eight years ago, when he had a tough bout of pneumonia, things looked bleak.
“The doctor gave me two hours. That was it,” John said. “He had her [Sue] call all the family.”
Said Sue: “The good Lord wasn’t ready for him. He told him he had to stay and take care of me.”
Repasky, a native of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, met Sue, a native of Converse, Louisiana when both worked at the Lake Charles Air Base during World War II.
After turns at Bethlehem Steel and the Civilian Conservation Corps, Repasky joined the Army in 1941, only to decide marching wasn’t for him. So he transferred to the Army Air Corps, and wound up at the Lake Charles Air Base, where combat crews trained.
Repasky was a supply sergeant and spent four years there.
“They set him up to run the office, where there were about 10 of us girls,” Sue recalls. “He picked me. We dated for a good year and a half while we worked together in the same office.”
At the end of 1945, with the war over, Repasky was released from the Army and went home to Pennsylvania.
But not for long.
Sue had stayed on at the base to help the Army close it down and there was a vacancy.
John jumped at the call-back.
“He and I were the last two civilians to help close the base,” Sue recalled.
They were married April 20, 1946.
“Besides being real pretty, she was fun to work with,” John said. “We’ve been working ever since.”
After one year attending plumbing school in Kansas City and another as an apprentice at Elmore Plumbing in Orange, Repasky moved he and his wife to Bridge City in 1949, setting up shop – and home – at the corner of Darby and Texas Avenue.
“My friends asked, ‘Why do you want to move to Bridge City?,’” Repasky recalled. “I said, ‘One day it’s going to be the capital of Orange County.’
“I haven’t lived here long, just 67 years.”
He ran Repasky Plumbing for 14 years before quitting to become a pipefitter.
“Wherever a job showed up, I went. I had four kids to feed,” John said.
The couple have three living children, two grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren.