A century of wars, politics, and technology. That is what 100-year-old Max Bartley has lived through.

A century of wars, politics, and technology. That is what 100-year-old Max Bartley has lived through.

“I was a handcuffed draftee, as we called it. A friend of mine in Linden (Missouri) and I made a pact that if one of us got drafted, the other fellow would immediately step forward,” Bartley said. “My buddy got his notice on September 9th of ’41. I was ready to volunteer when my draft notice arrived on September 11th, just two days later.”

He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, from September 1941 through November 1945, and considers himself “one of the lucky ones to make it back.” 

He was stationed in the Indo China territories running pipelines, where he learned his lifelong trade in plumbing. He was not a combat soldier but had to to regularly duck Japanese warplanes.

After returning home from WWII, Bartley moved from Linden to Sunrise Beach and became engaged to his wife, Maxine. They remained married for 70 years and had two daughters and a son, all living in the lake area. Bartley now lives with one of his daughters.  

When Bartley turned 100 years old on February 5, he celebrated with a crowd of family and friends. It was obvious that Bartley is much loved by multiple generations of descendants. He is in good physical shape, although his hearing is a little strained, but he smiles quietly, and it is apparent he is enjoying the attention. 

His longtime friends were eager to share stories of their experiences with him over the years. “I’ve known Max for 90 years” a spry petite woman who looks to only be in her 80s shares. Nora Lee Waisner tells the story of weekends at a dance hall called the Victory Inn (the present Branding Iron location), where she and her husband Harold, along with Max and his wife Maxine, enjoyed post-war time celebrating and dancing every weekend.  

Bartley has quite a few friends at the birthday party that are at least 90 years of age. According to Bartley and his friends — 93-year-old Dr. Jim Noland, David Buehler who never revealed his age, and Nora Lee Waisner — the secret to a long life is to never stop having fun and keep active as much as possible. These individuals are all widowers and would continue to meet at the veteran’s clubs as long as physically available. Bartley is the last surviving founding member of the Camdenton VFW. At his birthday party, Zach Wheat American Legion of Sunrise Beach leadership was on hand to present Bartley with a 50-year member framed certificate.

Bartley has seen over a dozen presidents in his lifetime, the formation of the American Football Association, and the construction of Bagnell Dam. A new car cost less than $300 when he was born, and a man’s life expectancy was only 53 years. He is thankful for his military service and highly recommends it to any young person as the foundation for discipline and responsibility.