Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

100 years old and going strong

WORLAND – One hundred years ago, on Feb. 19, 1919, Claire Lais was born to Joseph and Ida Boyd in Campbell County near Savageton. She joined five half-siblings and two full blood siblings, during a blizzard, with temperatures below zero and the snow piling up.

"I was born on a ranch out here in a sheep herders shack, probably a 10 X 12 sheepherder's shack. The snow was over the top of the fences and dad went to get a midwife to have me delivered," Lais said.

Her daughter Pat Wiseman added, "She was born over at the edge of the great grasslands, just out in nowhere. Her father was older, he was 60 when she was born and her mother was 40. He went out and got a homestead by himself and got it all ready for the family to come and brought his wife and children out to this crazy little place out in the middle of nowhere. While there his wife got pregnant again and that was Mom, Mom was born out there in a snowstorm in February, out in this crummy little shack. She was the last of the litter. Living out there, in extreme conditions was a real trial for her mother [Ida Boyd]. They just had horses, there was no good road. She [Claire] was born to older parents, it was a hard life, they were poor and through the years, she and dad made a life, they did well and she is retired and she is not poor anymore."

Since that frosty beginning, Lais has lived all over the western United States. Lais stated that her family moved to Missouri when she was little and that she attended grade school in Missouri. She attended high school in Kansas, where she met and married her husband Paul. The couple soon moved to Denver, Colorado and then onto California where her husband eventually retired from his job with the Federal Civil Service. After retiring the couple moved to Yachats, Oregon, where they lived for 19.5 years, then Washington and finally Worland in 2003 to be closer to their two children.

While in Yachats, the couple built their retirement home together. According to Wiseman, Lais designed, contracted and helped build that beautiful house on the hill.

No matter where Lais lived she has made sure that her dedication to God was first and foremost. "When I was 12 years old, I was in church and I gave my life to Jesus. I am not a sinless Christian but I am a forgiven Christian. Once in grace always in grace. My half-sister was instrumental in moving us from Missouri to Kansas and she was a devote Christian. That's how I was introduced to my Jesus," Lais said.

While unable to attend church anymore because she no longer drives, Lais feeds her spiritual side every Sunday. "I go to church on the television and God's been good to me. I believe in my savior who died on the cross for me and who is with me because God sent the Holy Spirit to indwell me and he has blessed me and kept me," she said.

Lais lives alone with her little dog Millie, as her husband Paul passed away about 10 years ago, here in Worland as she is still able to live independently and she fills her time knitting sweaters for World Vision. At the time of this writing she was working on her 515th sweater for the organization even though she no longer has feeling in her hands. "My hands are dead, they are cold but I can still hold a knitting needle," Lais said.

Wiseman added, "Her hands have no feeling in them anymore."

As to the secret to her longevity, Lais stated that she has no clue but, "I am so thankful that I can still get a marble count. It's not a question of whether you have marbles, its whether you can get a count." She added that she is still mentally and physically sound at this time.

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