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Oregon siblings reflect on life as their half-sister turns 100-years-old

Betty Moberg just turned 100-years-old. She was born two months premature, and her dad engineered an incubator using an iron and a cigar box to keep her alive.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Staying connected is important for most families, including the Mobergs. Six siblings from the Moberg family hopped on a Zoom call one recent morning to talk about growing up and growing old together, and to share the story of how their half-sister survived after their dad helped save her life.

All of the siblings were born before World War II started: Kay Christianson is 92 years old, Susan Munson is 90, Bill Moberg is 87, Joan Kuluris is 86, Georgia Marincovich is 85 and Audrey Cameron is 83.

"I remember when the war was over and the radio was on and all the bells were ringing in the town of Moro," Georgia said. 

"We ran all over on the streets of Moro yelling. We were all excited," Audrey added.

The family grew up in the small town of Moro, Oregon in Sherman County. They represent six of their dad's eight children. Their brother, Jim, passed away when he was 43. Their oldest sibling, a half-sister named Betty, turned 100 on January 31, 2023.

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Credit: Anne Dalgity
The Moberg family's oldest sibling, a half-sister named Betty, turned 100 on January 31, 2023.

"Betty is a miracle baby," Audrey said. 

Betty was born two months premature and her mom died during childbirth.

Audrey said her dad told the story of how a nurse wasn't giving Betty the care she needed. He ended up taking matters into his own hands to save her life.

"[He] took an iron and took it apart. Took the heating elements and lined a cigar box with cotton. Put in the heating elements and made a little incubator for Betty," said Audrey, recounting Betty's story. "It's pretty amazing." 

What's also amazing is the connection these six still hold today.

"Don't you call every day you girls?" Bill chimed in during the Zoom call.

"Every day at 7:20," Audrey answered with a laugh. "We call it the 'sisters chat' and we talk every day, forever. We laugh a lot."

The family recounted stories of growing up in the small town. In fact, there were so many stories to tell, the 40-minute limit that Zoom offers ran out — twice.

Credit: KGW
The Moberg family recalled stories of growing up in the small town of Moro, Oregon.

"Our favorite thing was going to the dump," Susan said.

"We loved to go to the dump. We found Dutch costumes at the dump," Audrey added. 

"We lived wild," Kay said with a chuckle. "Really as youngsters, we had breakfast and didn't come home until dinner!"

It was a time of innocence and care-free thinking. A time when technology like Zoom didn't exist, but that has never stopped these siblings from finding ways to connect with others.

"I was in love with the boy two houses down," Audrey said. "You could talk in the tin can and it would go over this linen string and you could actually talk to each other with a tin can. So we had our own technology."

The hour-long conversation over Zoom was a brief look back in time, with a family that's always looking forward.

"I would say, as a family, we're very optimistic. I would say that's one thing that has helped us to live these long years. We look ahead and we see good things ahead," said Susan.

As the began to say their goodbyes, top-of-mind was finding a new way to keep that connection and bond alive.

"We can figure out how to do this every night. We can get together and Zoom, can't we?" asked Joan.

Once a year, they all get together for a family reunion. It's something they've been doing for more than 40 years.

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