ROSSBURG — Herman Kolb spends a lot of his time nowadays reading.
Kolb, who turned 103 on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24, is a long-time subscriber to The Daily Advocate, and he enjoys reading anything about Border Collies.
“Absolutely, I read it [the newspaper],” he said. “I like it for the local news and local happenings. I know a lot of people I see in the news. I really liked Ron Griffitt’s column on Marty Brenneman the other day in the sports section.”
When questioned about what else he does in his spare time, his response was, “Whatever needs done…nothing special.”
What was his birthday like?
“Just another day,” he responded. “My daughter visited. It was a long weekend for her.”
His daughter and only child, Elaine Kolb, lives in Columbus and comes over to the rural Rossburg area just about every weekend to visit with her father. Kolb’s wife, the former Velma Brand, is currently in the Versailles Health Care Center, suffering from phlebitis.
He said he met his wife, now 96, at a dance at LeSourdesville Lake through mutual friends.
He gets to talk to her on the telephone these days, but indicated it’s difficult because she’s hard of hearing. And, he must be, too.
“I wish I could hear and see better,” he said.
Kolb said he was born in 1913 in Oxford Township in Butler County. His reason for coming to Darke County was his wife and her family.
“I bought this farm in 1967,” he said. “I farmed all my life; mostly general farming, specializing in purebred livestock…sheep and hogs as well as Border collies.”
He did this for as long as he could and for as long as his health held up.
He gets to talk to his wife on the telephone, but indicated it’s difficult because she’s hard of hearing, he said.
“I wish I could hear and see better,” he said.
Kolb said he did all of his own work around the farm. Now, he rents out the farming ground.
“I had to,” said Kolb, a lifetime member of Farm Bureau. “We had 178 acres, here and on the next place.”
In time, as his health dwindled, he got rid of his livestock and dogs.
“The only dog I have now is on that calendar on the wall over there,” he said pointing to his left.
Kolb said he has judged a lot of sheep shows, including in Darke County, which he did for three consecutive years. He also judged in Preble and Butler counties.
“At one time I had 80 ewes and at one time had a purebred Southdown flock,” he said. “I sure miss that.”
Kolb lives on the old Robert Ross farm.
“Ross was one of the founders of Rossburg,” he said. “I can’t believe how this neighborhood has changed; most of them have passed away.”
Known to be “sharp as a tack,” he was questioned about how good his memory is.
“I used to walk two miles to school and that gives you time to think about what’s going on,” he said.
What about current happenings? The election?
“We needed a change,” he said. “We need to bust up Washington a little. They forget some of the little people down here.”
He also mentioned the recent Ohio State-Michigan game. A Buckeyes fan, he also enjoys the Cincinnati Reds. His favorite Reds player was Pete Rose.
“They move them [athletes] around like a bunch of horse traders,” he said.
Even though he spent some time in the hospital and a nursing home recently, he said he has been “feeling good.”
“I’ve had a triple bypass, but, where they took the veins out of my leg, that never did heal up,” he said.
So, he’s getting some health care at home.
Since he can no longer walk, he has help.
“I’d be lost without this power chair,” he said.
In addition to his daughter’s visits just about every weekend, Kolb said he has good neighbors who keep an eye on him, such as Larry Yohey who stops by daily with a hot meal wife Connie cooks for Kolb.
His daughter, he said, keeps books for Columbus Metropolitan Ballet.
“She has 130-some on her payroll,” he said.
Has he ever attended a ballet?
“I never did even though she wanted us to,” he said.
How does it feel to be 103?
“I never paid attention; I just lived a day at a time,” he said. “I try to stay out of trouble, not do any dare-devil stuff or try not to.”
Is he ready for winter? “It’s part of life,” he said. “It comes and goes. We hang around…winter will pass over…and it’ll be spring again.”
He said a book he is reading now is “Sheepdogs” by Eric Hatsall.
“I had Border Collies for 70 years; three were imported from Scotland,” he said. “They [sheepdogs] are the best you can get for around a farm. I trained them. The majority of my Border Collie friends have passed on, but I still see and talk to a few.”
He believes youth nowadays should get involved in something interesting.
“I was in 4-H and was a 4-H leader for 10 years,” he said. “I was on the county livestock judging team years ago. I encouraged kids to get purebred livestock and we’d sweep the county fair. They could afford it back then. I paid $6 for one and $10 for another when I had registered Duroc hogs.”
Kolb no longer drives and quit doing that when his macular degeneration got worse.
“I used to drive four horses at a time,” he said. “That was great stuff. I drove skid loaders, tractors, combines…drove all of them. I still have a couple of the tractors.”
What is his advice for seniors in their golden years?
“Stay out of trouble, mind your own business and don’t go into debt,” he said. “Debt is a terrible thing to climb out of. I have never had a credit card in my life. I didn’t buy anything I couldn’t pay for.”
This writer may be reached at 937-569-4315. Follow her on Facebook and join the conversation and get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.