Longtime resident of Nacogdoches' Hotel Fredonia celebrates 102nd birthday

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Hotel Fredonia in Nacogdoches has the honor of serving guests every day. However, the staff isn't shy to say they treat one guest better than others - especially Thursday.

J. D. Harkrider, an 11-year resident of the hotel, has been listening to "Happy Birthday" sung to him for 102 years.

Each year it just keeps getting better.

"I have enjoyed a good life these 102 years, but the first 23, I was pretty rowdy then," Harkrider said.

This quick-witted gentleman has slowed down, but not much.

"You'd be surprised at the people that don't believe I'm as old as I am," Harkrider said.

Sometimes he has to show his driver's license to prove his age. He's got two more years on it. Good thing. The former car dealer, among a lot of other trades, just bought a new car.

"I don't drive at night, but daytime I go where ever I want to," Harkrider said.

He's flying out to a great granddaughter's wedding later this week because it doesn't interfere with visiting his favorite ball team.

He still goes to the Atlanta Braves spring training games. Harkrider said he goes to about 18 games each year.

The rest of the time, the sports fan enjoys the place he plans to call home for the rest of his life.

"I'm gonna die here," Harkrider said. "There's not an employee here that doesn't want to do something for me."

The gestures come back in so many ways.

"He's very uplifting for me," said Susan Pack Reents, the owner of Hotel Fredonia.

Especially when it comes to aging, something Harkrider says others complain about way too much.

"Some of 'em are afraid of it," Harkrider said. "I am not. I'm ready to die when the Lord gets ready for me."

The faithful husband attributes a good Lord and a good wife of 66 years for his longevity.

"And she's been gone soon be 13 years, and I haven't been interested since," Harkrider said.

But when asked if he notices the young ladies in his hotel family Harkrider quipped,  "Looking don't cost anything."

Harkrider can be found most any day at the Hotel Fredonia restaurant during 6 a.m. breakfast, or a noonday lunch. He welcomes company at his reserved table. Anyone joining him is guaranteed a fun history lesson.

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