NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The closure of the Nacogdoches landmark, Hotel Fredonia, has brought on another change for its longest running guest, 102-year-old J.D. Harkrider. He lived at the hotel for 11 years.
Ever since Hotel Fredonia closed last year, Harkrider has lived in an assisted living center. The 102-year-old waited for a resolution that never came. Tired of being lonely, the witty centenarian is moving to Orlando, Florida to be close to family and friends.
"Nacogdoches has been home since 1944, so it's a pretty big load to get up and leave it," Harkrider said.
There's a walking cane.
That walking stick is older than you are," Harkrider said.
And his wife's chest of drawers.
"I think this is his only antique he's got left, besides himself," said Varron McLemore, a friend.
Good friends can joke because they know this man's qualities in life.
"At the end of the day he loved right by his wife, by the church, by himself," McLemore said.
The oldest town in Texas was good to Harkrider, one of its oldest residents. He met his wife of 66 years here. He sold cars, loved to dance, and planted roses wherever he lived.
There will be changes. No longer will Harkrider pick up the car keys.
"I am afoot from here out," Harkrider said.
Harkrider would drive somewhere most every day in Nacogdoches. He took his last drive behind the wheel even though the state of Texas isn't questioning his ability.
"I still got my driver's license for two more years," Harkrider said.
"They renewed it last month," said Amy Bruns, Harkrider's granddaughter.
Family members are wanting to help out by maintaining their granddad's independence.
"Dad's got a bed of roses for him to take care of and he'll take care of that," Bruns said. "He'll probably go take care of the church building and just give back like he always does in his humorous ways."
The time has come to say goodbye.
"But I'm not burning any bridges. I might be back," Harkrider said.
Harkrider is no stranger to Orlando, Florida. He's been visiting the city for decades.
Family is important, but so are the Atlanta Braves. Harkrider never misses a spring practice held each year in Orlando. Soon he'll be 20 miles from the ballpark.
Harkrider's birthday is October 24. If you want to send him a card, his forwarding address is 2093 Gatlin Avenue, Orlando, Florida, 32806.