Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

September 20, 2022
Jerry McFarland

92-year-old McFarland recalls the simple life of Ophir 

Gerald ‘Jerry’ McFarland is perhaps the longest living person born in what once was the smallest town in Utah.

Born on May 30, 1931, in Ophir, 92 year-old McFarland now lives in Tooele, but he has fond memories of his Ophir days.

McFarland grew up attending school in a two-room school house from the first to the eighth grade in a class of around 15 students.

While he wasn’t at school, McFarland enjoyed playing softball, riding bikes, chasing wild horses, and climbing mountains.

“Ophir was a fun place for kids, especially,” McFarland said. “I think I climbed every mountain in Ophir. I always wanted to go to the next highest peak. I was an adventurer, I guess.”

McFarland remembers having to go to the grocery store to make phone calls, because the store had the only phone in town.

There wasn’t TV in Ophir either.

“My brother and I carried a television antenna all over the mountains trying to pick up a signal but all we could ever get was snow,” McFarland said.

When McFarland was old enough to attend high school, he rode the bus over 20 miles one way to Tooele High School.

“I couldn’t really participate in sports, because I had no way home,” he said. “I did manage to do baseball for two years. I hitchhiked home. It was safe to hitchhike then. You could ride with anybody and not have to worry.”

In 1949, McFarland graduated high school and went to work for McFarland and Hullinger, a trucking company, partially belonging to his uncle.

“We worked hauling gravel and hauling mining ore,” McFarland explained. “In the wintertime, they would let us work in the mines in Ophir and the Hidden Treasure Mine in Jacob City.”

McFarland traveled all over Utah hauling different materials and equipment for McFarland and Hullinger.

In the early 1950s, McFarland met his future wife, Renee.

“My friend and I were cruising checking out some girls and we were in Fairfield,” he said. “We happened to go through there and there was my wife and another lady just out walking and my friend knew the other lady, so we stopped to talk to them. I got introduced to Renee then and after that, we met at a dance in Stockton. After that, we just went steady.”

McFarland proposed to Renee near Ophir’s large Christmas tree that the town put up each year. 

They were married Jan. 28, 1955. The couple was married for 67 years before Renee passed away in May 2022. Together they had three children, seven grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren.

The newly wed couple moved from Ophir to Tooele after the married.

After 20 years with McFarland and Hullinger, McFarland took a job at Sperry Rand Corporation in Salt Lake where he worked on missiles and missile launchers.

After working there for around five years, McFarland began working at Tooele Army Depot as an ammunition equipment specialist.

“I liked it there,” he said. “It was good for Tooele.”

He stayed at the job at the depot and retired 30 years later.  

McFarland was also a volunteer firefighter at the Tooele City Fire Department for 50 years.

McFarland enjoys camping, horse races, traveling, and the Utah Jazz. He also likes watching the Miami Dolphins play.

His favorite animal is a horse.  

“They are beautiful and it’s relaxing to go out and ride them,” McFarland said.

During his free time, McFarland enjoys helping people.

McFarland offered his secret for a long life.

“It’s not being perfect — that’s for sure; it’s having a good time all the time,” he said. “Working hard, enjoying a little whiskey and beer.”

Looking back on 92 years of living in this world, McFarland said if he could change one thing he would like to create more unity.

“I would want the Democrats and the Republicans to work together, instead of fighting all the time and confusing everything,” he said.


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