Max Rafuse talks with a friend dropping off a present. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)

Max Rafuse talks with a friend dropping off a present. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)

Maple Ridge man celebrates 99th birthday in COVID-19 fashion

A 10-metre-long sign adorned the front lawn of the house wishing Max Rafuse a happy birthday

The honking of horns reverberated through a Maple Ridge neighbourhood on Tuesday to honour a Maple Ridge man celebrating his 99th birthday.

Cars slowed down in front of the house where Max Rafuse lives with his daughter and her husband, who are caring for him, along Thornton Avenue, just off of Laity Street.

With the first few vehicles, Max would come out on the front porch and wave to well-wishers. His daughters received gifts on his behalf.

For others, and to keep him safe, a recliner was placed on the other side of the screen door so he could see and talk to the visitors.

Two signs, each about 10 metres long, alerted the neighbourhood to his birthday. An arrow, about one metre high, containing the words “officially old” pointed to the rest of the sign that sprawled the entire front lawn. It read: “Happy 99th Birthday Max Please Honk”.

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“Every year as your parents get to this age you keep thinking, what can we do,” said Max’ s youngest daughter Brenda Rafuse.

Last year they held an open house for people to stop in.

However, because of the pandemic, her family started thinking of other ways to celebrate.

Brenda got the idea of putting the big sign out front by watching what other people were doing for birthdays over the summer.

“Well, we could do that,” she thought.

A friend of hers, who works in the printing industry, knew of a local printing company who could make a big sign.

“How else do you have fun with a 99-year-old,” she asked?

Max got married to his wife Edith in 1943 and moved to Haney in 1947.

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Over the years he was a service, body, and fender man for Haney Hammond Motor Freight from 1947 to 1949. He worked in the body shop of Mussallem Motors from 1949 to 1957. From 1957 to 1959 he worked at McCullough Electric and then as an electrician and millwright at Whonnock Lumber from 1959 to 1980.

Max and Edith had four children – Elaine, Ray, Debbie and Brenda.

He was also a volunteer firefighter for the Maple Ridge Fire Department in the early 1950’s until the late 1970’s.

Max retired in 1980 and moved to his recreational home in Deka Lake where he spent the next 22 years with Edith.

The couple returned to Maple Ridge in 2004.

Edith passed away two years ago.

Max was surprised with the amount of his friends that stopped by the house to wish him a happy birthday, but was disappointed they couldn’t visit.

His take on turning 99 is “it’s long enough”. He is simply happy that he has strong relationships with all of his children.

Max says his secret to living a long life is retiring early to pursue life’s choices on his own time.

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Brenda Rafuse and her father, Max Rafuse, wave to well-wishers on Max’s 99th birthday. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)

Brenda Rafuse and her father, Max Rafuse, wave to well-wishers on Max’s 99th birthday. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)

A friend talks to Max Rafuse in front of a 10-metre-long sign in front of the house wishing Max a happy 99th birthday. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)

A friend talks to Max Rafuse in front of a 10-metre-long sign in front of the house wishing Max a happy 99th birthday. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)

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