Walt Bueller just turned 100 years old, and he celebrated with a party on his boat, Why Not, a 32-foot Pacemaker, where’s he’s been living for the past 37 years. Bueller’s boat is tied up at the Marina Pacifica in Long Beach, California. He moved on board in 1982, and he plans to stay. “I have salt water in my veins,” he told The Grunion. “This is where I want to be.”
Bueller and his family lived in Minnesota until the Great Depression hit, and his father sent him to work on a farm in Northern California. That didn’t work out well, and he ended up in an orphanage in Los Angeles County.
When he was old enough, Bueller joined the Marines. The destroyer he was serving on left Pearl Harbor just a few days before the Japanese attack there on Dec. 7, 1941. During the war, he rose to be a staff sergeant.
Bueller then knocked around for a while, driving a truck for the U.S. Department of Forestry, working as a mechanic, joining the Coast Guard Auxiliary in Long Beach. He bought Why Not so he could cruise to Catalina. He stayed there for a month, and he realized that living aboard was a good life. That was long ago.
The boat doesn’t leave the marina any more, and friends help him with maintenance. Bueller now uses a walker, and he’s a bit hard of hearing. A doctor from the VA will make a house call to the boat if Bueller can’t make it to the office.
Both the Long Beach Police Department and the Long Beach Fire Department helped him celebrate his big birthday. Everyone wore party hats and had beer Koozies with “Walt Turns 100 – I want a recount,” printed on them. Bueller says he had a ball. Read more: