Celebrating 100, Pihl Shows No Sign of Slowing Down

Jane Pihl has lived an extraordinary life over the past 100 years. Pihl, who turned 100 on Aug. 30, lived in Baghdad and Peru as the wife of a doctor. She raised two daughters and then went back to college in her 50s in the United States. And she has lived long enough to see 16 presidents in office, from Calvin Coolidge to Donald Trump.

Pihl, who was feted with a birthday celebration on Sept. 22 after a bible study class at Four Seasons, said there are two reasons she has achieved this milestone.

“I would say, “Love the Lord and stay healthy,” said Pihl (pronounced “Peel”).

Born on Aug. 30, 1917 to Guy and Meryl O’Ffill in Lincoln, Neb., Pihl was one of six children, four boys and two girls. All of her siblings — Joseph, Daniel, Shirley, Jack and Bob — have all passed away. Guy O’Ffill was a landscape architect and the family lived in Lincoln until Mr. O’Ffill took a job in Berrien Springs, Mich., when Jane was 12. It was the Great Depression and there weren’t a lot of jobs in that town for landscape architects, she said.

“We were broke,” Pihl said.

Two years later, her parents divorced and Mrs. O’Ffill, who was a musician, took her children and moved to Hollywood to live with her sister, who was wealthy, according to Pihl. Pihl quit school at age 16, but later got her GED. She was 18 when she learned of her father’s death at the age of 45. Mr. O’Ffill had moved back to Lincoln and Pihl’s two older brothers let the family know of their father’s passing.

At 18, Pihl began attending Pacific Union College in Napa, and it was there that she met her husband, Kern Pihl, who was studying to be a doctor. They met in March in bible study and married in July of that same year. The couple moved to Glendale, where Kern did construction before returning to pre-med school at 28.

 Three years later, they moved to Porterville, where he went into family practice for four years. Then, Dr. Pihl received a call to become the director of a Seventh-day Adventist hospital in Baghdad. Dr. Pihl accepted the offer and the couple moved there with one of their daughters.

Pihl said they enjoyed living in Baghdad. “We found the Muslims to be the most decent, sweetest people we’ve ever met,” she said.

Dr. Pihl’s medical career took them to Chula Vista for a year and then to Peru, where their second daughter was born. The couple also raised Jane’s cousin for nine years, a boy, Chick, from age 7 to 16. Several more moves, to Chicago, Bloomingdale, Mich., and Burlington, Iowa, and then the couple settled in Loma Linda when Dr. Pihl had a family practice in Colton from 1962 to 1982.

It was around 1962 when Jane Pihl decided to return to school to study pre-nursing at San Bernardino Valley College. She earned her associate of arts degree, but decided not to pursue nursing as a career. Instead, she spent 15 years as a kindergarten teacher at University Church in Loma Linda with her sister-in-law, Lyle Marie Stockdale.

It was two years ago that she moved to Four Seasons to live with one of her daughters. Her other daughter also lives there. Pihl has four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Her husband died 10 years ago.

After the Bible Study ended last Friday, Pihl spent a half hour answering questions about her life at a birthday celebration organized by her friend, Eileen Gilbert. Approximately 40 people enjoyed cupcakes and sat among the balloons wishing Pihl Happy Birthday.

She was asked about how she has lived so long. “To me, Christ is my whole life. I talk to him all day ,” Pihl said.  She also attributed her vibrancy to her relationship with the Lord. She is very interested in current events and is disheartened by what she is seeing in the world and especially in the last presidential election.

“I have never seen such hatred, such viciousness, on both sides,” said Pihl.

She has been adventurous in her life, climbing Mt. Whitney when she was 50. As for her eating habits, she only eats twice a day, at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Pihl said that she believes that every person in this world has a heart that is broken, but they can turn to the Lord when they are overwhelmed or feeling alone.

“One person of integrity can bring in many, many souls to Christ,” she said.


Article from Record Gazette