SUNNYSIDE — “Doc” William Amsden turned 100 years old on July 13, a birthday only a few others in his family have achieved.

“I have an older sister who is 102 and a younger brother who is 90,” he said recently.

Amsden was one of the “migratory boys” those Great Depression single men who wandered from the Midwest to the Northwest, looking for work during the Great Depression.

He found himself being among the first men drafted when the United States entered World War II.

“The new ‘voluntary’ draft targeted single men and there were a lot of us wandering from job to job during the Depression,” Amsden recalled.

“I joined the army and was immediately put into one of the last horse Calvary units, because of my ranch work. I stayed with the Calvary Unit until Pearl Harbor was hit,” he recollected.

His next duty station was at Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands and “…there was no place to go for R&R while on the islands,” he laughed.

Following his military discharge, he used his G.I. Bill to attend Fort Collins Colorado State University to earn his degree in veterinary medicine.

“I worked in private practice in Beach, N.D. for about 10 years before selling my practice.”

His life changed again when a former vet school classmate told him of a meat inspection career opportunity, so Amsden decided to give that a try.

“Doc” worked as a meat inspector for the United States Department of Agriculture, inspecting turkey meat until his retirement in the mid-1980s, the former veterinarian reminisced.

Amsden married a pretty lady he met during his first post war furlough. “We married in January 1946 in Portland, Ore., and Helen and I were married for 66 years.”

Always a traveler, Amsden recently went by train to visit his sister and brother, plus a brood of nieces and nephews in North Dakota.

“The nieces and nephews were more interested in visiting with each other than with me, but I still had a great time,” he admitted.

Julia Hart can be reached at 509-837-4500, ext. 123 or at

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