Arlouine M. Vincent-Conde, a former general store owner in Garberville whose positive outlook on life helped her live to be a centenarian, died Thursday in Santa Rosa of natural causes. She was 105.
“She was a very, very positive person,” said long-time friend Olallo Fernandez of Daly City. “She believed in being happy with what you have.”
Vincent-Conde outlived two husbands and a caregiver, and was physically and mentally active until very recently, enjoying card games as good political debate, Fernandez said.
“She was a tough cookie,” Fernandez said. “She wasn't going to be bossed around.”
Vincent-Conde was born Arlouine Ring in Ballard, Wash., on May 9, 1908, when Teddy Roosevelt was president. Her parents Randall and Louisa Ring later settled in Eureka, where she graduated high school. She promptly married her sweetheart Fred Vincent, who went on to manage the lumber company store in the Humboldt County town of Samoa.
“One day, he said to himself, 'If I'm running the store for them, I could do it for us,'” Fernandez said.
She agreed, and they opened Fred's Store in Garberville not far from the Benbow Inn, whose guests the store outfitted in sporting gear for their hunting and fishing trips in the Redwood Empire. They ran the store for about 15 years before semi-retiring to a small farm in Covelo in Round Valley, which Vincent-Conde recalled as “heaven on earth.”
After her husband died in an agricultural accident, Vincent-Conde and her mother moved to Santa Rosa. She enjoyed gardening and was a member in various social clubs.
In 1991, at the age of 83, she married Ted H. Conde, with the couple enjoying each other's company until he died in 1997. She remained active and even spontaneous in her old age.
An avid reader of The Press Democrat, in 2007 at the age of 99 she spotted a story about a tulip festival in the Netherlands and proposed she, her sister-in-law and caregiver Joy Conde, and Fernandez, Joy's boyfriend, all attend.
They instead found a tulip festival in Washington State to visit, working in a side trip to the famed The Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia.
She was thankful to be able to live in her home in Bennett Valley until very recently. After Joy Conde passed away in 2009, she enjoyed regular visits from Fernandez, who drove up every Saturday to spend time with her, often taking her to North Salmon Beach to take in the waves from the safety of the parking lot, he said.
“She really was a special person,” Fernandez said.
A chapel service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Eggen and Lance Chapel, 1540 Mendocino Ave. in Santa Rosa.