PORTSMOUTH — Richard V. Brunner, a local man preparing to celebrate his 100th birthday on May 30, is eager to share this special milestone with treasured family and friends, as well as the hometown he loves.
Born in 1922 in his family’s front room, Brunner recounted that even from birth, he knew how to make a spectacular entrance.
“I was born feet-first,” Brunner explained through chuckles. My father was in there with the doctor, and he said, ‘grab those legs and pull as hard and fast as you can,’ which he did. That was back in 1922 and now, here I sit.”
Looking around the walls and surfaces of Brunner’s neatly kept suite at his retirement village, it’s apparent just how far those feet have taken him over the years. Photos of him in China, Ireland, Canada, and Alaska adorn his desk along with older snapshots of his daughters, wife, grandchildren, and friends. Brunner is quick to point out in photos the family and friends who make him very proud. Even Roy Rogers makes an appearance in some, beaming his movie star grin and wearing his signature cowboy hat in Brunner’s former office of dentistry.
“Roy would come in, and they would always be very proud to see him,” Brunner said of his friend’s visits to Portsmouth. But the lives that Brunner touched over the last century are something to be very proud of, too.
Brunner, a veteran of World War II and a member of a military brass band, earned the opportunity to study dentistry at The Ohio State University. According to his daughter, Diane Yarbrough, Brunner was one of the first established dentists in Portsmouth, initially serving the workers at the Williams Shoe Manufacturing Company before taking on his own practice.
When Brunner looks at older photos from his office, he still remembers the names of former employees and hygienists. The same smile pictured beaming next to Rogers or while preparing to play his trumpet for an audience in Ireland still spreads easily across his face as he chats about his long and exciting life.
With nearly a century of birthdays behind him so far, Brunner’s birthday wish remains a simple one for his loved ones.
“Come visit me when I’m alive, it’s no good after,” Brunner said.
Yarbrough, who lives close to the retirement village, is all too happy to oblige. She’s even organized a visit from relatives in Missouri for her father’s party this year.
When asked if he has a secret for longevity, Brunner claims there isn’t much to it.
“I can’t tell you anything, except that I try to do what people tell me to do.” Even then, Brunner said so with a wink and a grin.
Any readers who wish to send Brunner a birthday card may send them to:
Hill View Retirement Center
c/o Richard V. Brunner
1610 28th Street
Portsmouth, OH 45662