PACKWOOD — Roland McCreery turned 90 years old Nov. 1. He and his wife just celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary. They still harvest together.
McCreery has farmed his entire life, taking over the family trade from his father and grandfather. Joe Miller, a friend who harvests with McCreery and his wife, said McCreery started custom hay baling at 18 and hasn’t stopped.
McCreery and his wife met in high school and got married immediately after they graduated.
“I don’t know how she puts up with me,” he said laughing. “We did grow up together. She’ll always be a friend to the family.”
Miller chimed in. “They’re still a close couple. They’re very compatible with each other to this day.”
McCreery can still climb up his six combines with no problem. Every day he and his wife harvest behind the Pekin Community School.
“I think that’s pretty good for 90 and 91,” McCreery said with a laugh, “harvesting our own grain.”
The friendship he has with Miller also remains strong. They met on a harvesting trip in 1963, learning more about harvesting grain and how to deal with equipment breakdowns.
“We worked sun up till sun down harvesting grain,” Miller said, “and we had a lot of hot days with the dust and sun. We took pictures and had memories of us on the combines.”
Currently, McCreery’s neighbors, Miller and his friend Mike Mitchell help him put grain in storage bins. All of them continue to harvest because they are passionate about providing for their communities.
“Farmers are the backbone of our country,” Miller said, “They feed the whole country and the world at our feet.”
McCreery recalled his own memories of helping out with harvesting and growing up on a farm.
“Neighbors pushed together and helped each other,” McCreery said. “That was an interesting group of people.”
McCreery recalled driving the tractor when he was around eight years old. In 1936, his father lost his leg. McCreery began to help around the farm more. McCreery was devastated, but his father inspired him to push through any obstacles in life and continue farming.
“We really grew up doing everything together,” McCreery said with a smile, “a lot of people thought we were brothers. I practiced and he helped me get better.”
At this point in his life, McCreery and Miller are happy with the life he lived. As far as retiring from harvesting, he won’t unless he and his wife has to. For now, both of them agreed on trying it for a few more years.
“It’s pretty unique that Roland is 90 years old,” Miller said, “and his wife is 91 and still climbing up the combine and going out to the field. They’ve had an exciting life for years and years. He was in parades and was a Mason and Shriner.”