The only reason Joseph Perilloux Jr. didn’t drive his own truck to his 100th birthday party this past weekend was that his family rented a 1931 Model A Ford to escort him on his special day. The Montz man was 10 years old when the car was built.
“He makes 100 look awesome,” Dana Fletcher said of her grandfather, who turned 100 on July 5.
“My dad cooks, drives, cuts own grass, pays bills and goes to the grocery store three times a week,” Timmy Perilloux said of his father. “He’s just not happy that he can’t work.”
Joseph Jr., the third born out of seven children, has outlived all of his brothers and sisters. Timmy said his dad’s excellent health has meant he only started going to the doctor in the past few years.
“He started in the stock market at 95,” Timmy said chuckling. “He’s very old-school. He doesn’t have a cell phone…he has a house phone, but I don’t think he’s ever made a call on it. He’s had his pension check mailed to him every month for 50 years, and it would have liked to kill him when social security went to direct deposit.”
Timmy said while his father has taken on the challenges of growing older in stride, there are a few things about outliving most of his peers that bother him.
“He’ll tell me, ‘When I go to the grocery store, I don’t see nobody I know,’” Timmy said. “And I have to tell him, ‘Well, they’re all dead.’”
Joseph was in his 70s when he helped Timmy build a two and a half story shed on Timmy’s farming property, and Timmy said his dad could out-work most people even in his latter years.
“I can’t imagine life without him,” Timmy said. “He’s helped me out a tremendous amount. He was still picking vegetables at 92 and 93.”
Joseph was drafted into the Army at 23 years old and trained for an invasion of Japan, which never happened. He was sent to the Philippines and from there was sent to Japan for the occupation of Japan. His service lasted nearly two years.
Joseph and his late wife Inez Madere Perilloux had three sons, and Joseph spent his career years at GATX, working at a car repair shop in Good Hope and then working construction in Norco.
“I still wish I was able to work like I have my whole life,” Joseph said.
Family members say that Joseph’s work ethic and devotion to his family have always been strong.
“He taught me so much about life, like how to drive a standard, shoot a shotgun and so much more,” Joseph’s grandson Spencer Perilloux said. “There were all the trips back and forth of the farm teaching me different lessons that are needed throughout life. I will forever be grateful for the lessons he taught me. Him watching over my shoulder while picking vegetables will stay with me forever.”
Blake Forsythe, Joseph’s oldest grandson, said his grandfather is man who has always had his priorities straight.
“He would take me crabbing, fishing and to ride on tractors as a kid,” Blake said. “He always had plenty of time for family.”
Rebecca Gréaud, Joseph’s granddaughter, said her grandfather holds a special place in each of their family member’s hearts.
“Grandpa truly has a heart of gold and has always been a very hard worker,” she said. “He would always call me ‘sha’ as a kid and I adore his reaction with my kids, his great grandchildren. His first words are always ‘There’s my pretty little girl and my handsome little boy’ when he sees them, and we all love him dearly.”