On July 20, 1919, Alberta farmers Irven and Carolyn Fulgham had a son. A century later – through the Great Depression and the Second World War – Del Fulgham is still going strong.
Fulgham reached his 100th birthday on July 20 of this year—and threw a proper party to celebrate. Close to 50 relatives came together in Vernon (where he’s spent his retirement years) to welcome him to the centenarian club.
It’s been a storied 10 decades of life. Fulgham’s second daughter, Elaine Reich, helps to tell the story.
Born in Provost, Alberta as his parents’ second of five children, Fulgham enjoyed working in the fresh farmland air in his hard-working teenage years, when the Great Depression was in full, debilitating force. Fulgham and his family moved to the small town of Springfield, Alberta in 1939, where they rented out four quarters of land and continued to farm.
In December 1941 the Second World War was well underway: the U.S. had by then declared war on Japan following the Pearl Harbour attack of December 7. Fulgham was then training at the Canadian Army (basic) Training Centre in Camrose, Alberta, where he later became a staff member.
Fulgham was conscripted into the army in 1943 – the same year he married Ida E. Allenbrand, who was his wife for 65 years.
Fulgham served as a private with the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps for two years during the war’s climax, attending to wounded soldiers in Maidenhead, England.
When the war was over he travelled on the overcrowded HMT Mauretania back home, where his wife and two-year-old daughter were waiting for him.
In 1983 Fulgham retired and moved to Vernon, where he currently resides. He was involved for many years in volunteer work with various groups, including the National Association of Federal Retirees (NAFR) and the Heritage Club of Postal Workers. He also stayed active by joining a senior bowling team that took him bowling in various leagues in the province and helping the Okanagan Mainline men’s team of “Golden Agers” to earn the title of BC Champions.
Fulgham’s wife Ida passed away in 2005. “She is sadly missed and fondly remembered,” says Fulgham’s daughter Elaine Reich.
During their years together the couple enjoyed exploring Canada, travelling throughout Alberta on the province’s 75th birthday in 1980, and making trips to Niagara Falls and Haida Gwaii.
Only 0.02 per cent of Canadians live to be 100 according to figures from the 2016 Census, making Del Fulgham one of roughly 8,000 centenarians living in Canada today.
If you see him around town, remember to wish him a happy belated.