Renewing your driver’s license can add a bit of tension to an upcoming birthday at any age. So imagine when it’s your 100th birthday.
Clarice Glenn of Richland wanted to make sure she was ready when she went in to renew her license last week, in advance of hitting the century mark on March 9.
So she read up on driving manuals for more than two months to prepare.
It turned out Glenn didn’t even have to take a driving test. But she passed the eye test.
“He said I did good,” she said of an employee at the licensing office.
It should have come as no surprise that Glenn would pass the test — she has been driving for 87 years with barely a blemish on her record.
The road isn’t the only place Glenn remains active. She rode on a Jet Ski at 97. She still sings in her church senior choir and works on the garden in the backyard of the home in central Richland that she and her late husband, Bruce Glenn Sr., paid $10,000 for in the late 1950s.
She credits her faith as one of the reasons she has lived such a long, healthy life, along with staying away from smoking and drinking.
“No. 1, give your heart and soul to Jesus,” she said of her advice for living long. “No. 2 would be get away from that you know what.”
She started driving as a child in the meadow next to her house in her native Oklahoma. She hit the open road by herself at 13 when her father told her to bring some cream that had been separated from their milk six miles into town. He rewarded her with an extra nickel to buy ice cream.
“I was thrilled to death,” she said.
Glenn has never been at fault in an accident and only had one citation, said her daughter, Dawn Glenn, 58. The ticket came about 10 years ago in West Richland when she missed a sign saying the speed limit had changed.
“She couldn’t even talk her way out of it,” Dawn said.
Glenn understands she has to be careful so she can keep driving, Dawn said.
“She pays attention, because she knows if something happens, she’s done,” she said.
Glenn is one of 197 people 100 or older to have an active driver’s license in Washington, according to the state Department of Licensing. That includes an uncertain number of licenses issued to people who are no longer driving (or possibly not even alive) because they have military licenses with no expiration date.
She mainly limits her driving to the grocery store, doctor’s office and church, all during daylight hours.
Glenn has attended Richland Baptist Church since 1953, shortly after moving to the area. Dawn said she is also involved in community programs including a food bank.
“She’s a little bit churchy, but she’s not judgmental,” Dawn said.
Glenn first taught school in Oklahoma and was convinced to move to Richland by a school superintendent while she was visiting family in the Tri-Cities. New schools were being built and they needed teachers to work there.
She ended up teaching several grades in Richland — at Jefferson, Spalding, Sacajawea and Lewis and Clark elementary schools — retiring in 1978.
She married Bruce Sr. in 1954, traveling the world with him before his death in 2002. They wintered in Arizona, took a motorhome across the country and visited Israel, Australia and New Zealand. They particularly enjoyed seeing Dolly Parton perform, even visiting her Dollywood theme park in Tennessee.
Glenn has cut back on the travel since her husband died, preferring to stay close to home — though she did take a trip through the Midwest when she was 95.
“It was a regional tour that the train made,” said her son, Bruce Jr., 62.
Dawn recalls her mother calling her not long ago and asking for help moving a garbage can that was stuck. Glenn called back soon after to tell her never mind, she had moved it herself.
“That’s one of the secrets to her longevity,” Dawn said. “She doesn’t say ‘I can’t.’ She figures out a way.”
Glenn will have a birthday party at the church on March 14. More than 150 guests are expected.
As for turning 100, Glenn, a grandmother of three and great-grandmother of five, said it’s just like any other birthday.
“Except when I get up in the morning, my legs are stiff,” she said.