National News

Long-time Georgia resident to celebrate 100th birthday at Fairview Presbyterian Church

Posted July 7, 2017 9:54 a.m. EDT

— After nearly a century of writing, environmental protection and traveling, it's time for Lawrenceville resident Robert Oertel to celebrate his 100th birthday.

Oertel, or "Bob" to everyone but his parents, has lived in Georgia since 1963, but has ties which extend far beyond.

On July 9, 1917, Oertel entered the world on his family's farm in Brighton, Ill., and was soon joined by his now 95-year-old brother Leland.

"I think the genes have something to do with it," Oertel said about the ages of him and his brother.

Since his birth, Oertel has spent his life dedicated to whatever he found important. One of these imperative components was the conservation of the environment.

Oertel gave many of his earlier years to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for this reason, where he urged television stations in South Carolina and Florida to create conservation programs.

Another way he expressed this passion was through his writing.

Oertel spent decades writing for magazines such as "Land and Water," an environmentally-driven publication he never officially retired from.

He also gave seminars on conservation for the next generation at Valdosta State University, University of West Georgia and Shorter University.

This work gave Oertel the opportunity to travel all across the U.S., and it remains important to him and his loved ones, such as his girlfriend, Izzy Weaver.

Weaver has all of his 800 articles, some of which she helped proofread and take photos for.

Their adventures extend beyond the states, however. Since their meeting in 2004, they have journeyed to other locations such as Scandinavia, New Zealand, Iceland and Canada.

"Iceland is one of the most interesting places, that was entirely different," he said.

Oertel and Weaver also make religion a priority in their lives, something Oertel has done since they day he was born.

"Wherever we were, I always found a church to go to," Oertel said.

In one instance at the age of 12, Oertel spent an entire year studying the Catechism before being questioned and confirmed in front of his entire church.

Today, this positive, old soul creates smiles at Fairview Presbyterian, the oldest church in Gwinnett County.

"The people there are really wonderful," Weaver said.

The small but loving community of 50 to 60 at the church are so paramount to Oertel, Fairview Presbyterian in Lawrenceville is scheduled to host Oetel's 100th birthday party on Saturday.

"I don't know who all is coming, but there's a lot of people that are gonna come," he said.

He knows his four daughters, as well as many others, will be by his side to honor his life.