NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A longtime tenant of Hotel Fredonia is back in his beloved Nacogdoches, a place he's called home for 66 years.
J.D. Harkrider, a very independent 103-year-old, didn't plan the move … or did he? You be the judge.
This story from the witty centenarian may be the best one yet.
J.D. Harkrider loved his longtime home and VIP service at the Hotel Fredonia. After the hotel closed Harkrider was convinced last year to hand over the car keys and move to Orlando to live with his son and daughter-in-law. His last words before leaving that August day were
"I'm not burning any bridges," Harkrider said. "I might be back."
A man true to his word, Mr Harkrider is back living at Magnolia Court in Nacogdoches.
"I came in on Sunday and moved in on Monday," Harkrider said.
Was it an impulse decision or planned out?
"I have always thought about coming back home," Harkrider said.
Harkrider's son knew while he away on a business trip his father would be visiting Nacogdoches. But that's all he knew.
"Came to church from San Augustine with my niece, and after we had lunch, I just suggested let's drive out to Magnolia Court," Harkrider said.
By the next day, Harkrider moved in with only a suitcase and without calling his son. Good friend, Varron McLemore has his own theory.
"He denies it," McLemore said. "I think he had it planned all along that he was going to try to figure out something to do."
Nevertheless, the decision was made and it was time to break the news to Harkrider's son.
In response to a question about who broke the news to his son, Harkrider chuckled and said, "Well, Varron called my grandson, and my grandson called his mother and daddy, and that's when the fire started."
The fire has since been put out. The family shipped Harkrider his belongings, including portraits of his late wife of 66 years, Thelma. She is buried in a cemetery across the street. In her memory, Harkrider had planted 100 roses at Hotel Fredonia.
"Of course, I like to go to the hotel and see if my roses were still blooming like they are," Harkrider said.
And could this wise man have something else up his sleeve?
"I would hate to leave this place to go to the hotel, but it would be really tempting," Harkrider said.
In the meantime, Harkrider walks three miles a day, just as the doctor ordered. He must be fit so not to break a record he's kept for years. He'll visit Florida for the Atlanta Braves spring training. Mr Harkrider is a slugger who can honestly say he's hit a home run.
J.D. Harkrider will celebrate his 104th birthday on October 24th. A party is planned and Harkrider is already talking about easily reaching 105.