At his 100th birthday party in 2017, fitness buff Carl Bogaard watched younger guests pay tribute to him by getting out on the dance floor and doing pushups.
“When they were done,” said his son David, “my father got up and said, ‘OK, my turn.’
“He did crunches. The DJ started playing the theme from ‘Rocky,’ and everyone started counting. He flipped himself over and did 25 pushups.”
His dance-floor demonstration came three years after he’d gotten his second pacemaker implanted, according to his son, who said: “The doctor told him, ‘Let’s see you wear this one out, Carl. It’s good for 14 years.’”
Mr. Bogaard died Aug. 7 at his Rogers Park condo at 103.
His Depression-era upbringing taught him to save money, exercise moderation and just plain exercise.
He worked for 46 years at auto and heavy-equipment parts manufacturer Stewart-Warner, much of that time as a machinist. He used to marvel that he started out making 50 cents an hour as a teenager and ended up at $15 an hour when he retired at 65.
“My father would consider himself a very ordinary man,” his son said. “He was a skilled laborer, but I and a lot of other people would consider him an extraordinary ordinary man.”
Young Carl grew up near Chicago and Ashland avenues and graduated from the old Tuley High School.
He worked through World War II at Stewart-Warner, making parts for the war effort.
At 19, he married his first wife, Anne. In 1952, they bought their first house near Touhy and Western avenues with $5,000 cash down and a 20-year mortgage with a monthly payment of $78, David Bogaard said. They paid it off early.
Mr. Bogaard liked to read with young David and his daughter Carole. He’d sit his kids on his lap and go over the comics: Blondie, Dennis the Menace, Henry, the Katzenjammer Kids, The Phantom and Dick Tracy.
“He took us to the library and got us library cards,” David Bogaard said, and he took him and his friends for hot dogs at Superdawg or a swim at Whalen Pool.
After 46 years, he and Anne divorced. In a 2014 interview with the Chicago Tribune, to which he was a frequent letter writer, he said it “got to a point where we couldn’t be happy living together anymore.” She died in 2003.
He married his second wife, Mary Ann, in 1994. She died in 2005.
“He made a happy childhood for himself,” his son said. “He befriended a priest who gave him a tennis racket, and that started my father’s love of tennis. He played tennis until his late 90s.”
“When that ball is coming at me,’’ he told his son, “it can be anything I want. I can smash it over and over and over again to get my frustrations out.”
When E.G. “Greg” McDaniel moved to the North Side in the 1970s to attend Northwestern University, Mr. Bogaard and his 50-something tennis buddies “kind of took me in.” They’d play at city parks. One time, another tennis player made a racist comment to McDaniel, who is Black.
“Carl and the guys chased him off the tennis court,” McDaniel said.
Mr. Bogaard owned just one suit. He enjoyed an icy beer and the occasional highball.
He loved singing, especially “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.” When he got to the line, “I’ve got a beautiful feeling, everything’s going my way,” he’d change it, depending on what he was doing. If he was going fishing, he’d sing, “I’ve got a beautiful feeling, we’re going to catch fish today.” At a nice restaurant: “We’re going to eat good today.”
In addition to his children Carole and David, Mr. Bogaard is survived by four grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
For his 90th birthday, his family gave him an Apple computer. On Twitter, he’d post updates like “Doing my 50 pushups” and “Get going Cubbies I cannot wait much longer Carl Bogaard. 96”
He once propped his iPhone against a chair to shoot himself doing pushups.
“He was sick and tired of people saying, ‘A man your age can’t do pushups,’ ” said his son, who’s 75. “And then he put it on YouTube. I don’t know how to put something on YouTube.”
DJ Jonathon Brandmeier once challenged him to a pushup contest, said Dr. Westby G. Fisher, the NorthShore University HealthSystem physician who implanted Mr. Bogaard’s pacemaker. Brandmeier “pooped out” after about 35 pushups and got “smoked” by Mr. Bogaard, who did over 50, Fisher said.
Brandmeier said of Mr. Bogaard: “He was quite the character. The most kind, most energetic man we should all aspire to be. And, yeah, OK, he beat me in a pushup contest at 96 years old.”