LaVerne has always been a numbers guy. A former Lockheed Martin employee, his stats speak for themselves:
- Two degrees
- 46 years as a structures engineer
- Worked on six aircraft
- Four children
- Six grandchildren
- Three great-grandchildren
- 78 years of marriage
And 105 years old.
LaVerne’s Early Years
He attended the Ohio State University from 1938 to 1942 and earned a degree in mechanical engineering. From 1942 to 1988, LaVerne worked for the company, then known as Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation (Convair) and General Dynamics. Beginning as an engineer during the war, LaVerne loved the innovation of the aircraft built in Fort Worth.
“It was really interesting!” LaVerne said. “We were building a new airplane and had to calculate all the loads and stresses and tell them how many rivets to put in. It was new stuff.”
Through the years, the aircraft changed from bombers like the B-24, B-32, B-36 and B-58 to the deep strike F-111 to the F-16 fighters, but LaVerne’s love for the work stayed the same.
What Do You Gift a 105-year-old?
For LaVerne’s 105th birthday celebration, his family enjoyed a guided tour of the F-35 production line, but LaVerne very well could have taught a class himself. He lifted his right hand from his cane and gestured across the plant, describing the B-36 as “so tall its tail almost brushed the rafters.”
The conversations that transpired during the tour were a blending of the new and old worlds as LaVerne saw the world he loved through new eyes.
Much of his early career was spent on riveting pieces of aluminum together, a loud process. In today’s digitally transformed, quieter environment, LaVerne was surprised by the noiselessness.
“It’s so quiet in here,” LaVerne said. “Back in my day, everybody was riveting!”
Throughout the following decades there, LaVerne never shied away from the intriguing challenge his work posed.
Words of Wisdom
At 105, LaVerne is entirely quick-witted, curious and coherent. There’s one more question that has to be asked:
“What’s the secret to a long life?”
“I’ll tell you what the secret is...” LaVerne said. “Clean living!”
He swore by “not a puff of smoke, not a sip of alcohol and no drugs” as well as a lot of milk (both plain and chocolate) and a little Dr. Pepper and root beer. LaVerne’s bonus tip?
“Have a good partner. My wife and I were always really happy and did everything together. Great family, great wife.”