CHICO — World War II veteran Samuel Comella was born on August 20, 1920 and has spent his lifetime working on furniture — a “workaholic” his best friend of 53 years Tom Hall said.
Comella worked in a furniture factory for 30 years eventually making his way up the ranks to foreman on the cutting table. He then stayed working on his own in the furniture restoration business for 30 more years.
On Aug. 20, 2020 Comella turned 100 years old. Comella celebrated alongside his family and friends at his home, after COVID-19 canceled plans to enjoy one of his favorite hobbies — gambling at the casinos with his best friend Hall.
In addition to his love of furniture and the Vanna White Wheel of Fortune slot machines, Comella has a deep love of operas, as well as both his current wife and widow.
His advice for the next generation on how he’s reached the milestone is this: “Well I like to take a nap every afternoon, and I eat everything that’s no good for me. And that’s it.”
“He forgot to add one glass of martini every night,” Hall said.
Comella grew up in Berkeley and made furniture in both Oregon and Chico alongside Hall. He tried to retire away from the furniture business several times, but often got bored, Comella said.
In Chico, Comella owned a furniture recovery business called California Casual for five years that he took over from a friend, eventually passing the business on to another employee.
In the middle of his time working in the furniture factory, Comella took a two year break from the furniture business after being drafted into the United States Army during World War II. He volunteered alongside his brothers, but was denied at first due to his vision. When the war got “serious,” Comella said the military began accepting most anyone.
Comella’s name was called and he served as an Army/Marine ship repairman for the final two years of World War II. In his first year in the Army Comella served at Camp Callan, just north of San Diego. In his second year he was moved to the Adak Naval Facility on the Aleutian Islands in Alaska.
Since retirement for both Hall and Comella, who met when Hall was a 17-year old learning the trade and Comella was 47 years old, the two have enjoyed touring the casinos in Northern California together. In three days, the two made a trip stopping at all of the Northern California casinos north of Feather Falls in Oroville.
For the last five years, Comella has been attending monthly meetings as well as potluck dinners with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1555 in Chico. When commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1555 Michael Halldorson began his position and found out that one of the members lived in the subdivision over from him but was only not coming simply because he did not drive, he offered him a ride to all meetings and events Comella would come to.
“Everybody that talks to Sam appreciates his genuine personality and the fact that he’s interesting to talk to; he’s lovable for one thing, never complains and will eat anything. The guy’s got an appetite for a 100 year old,” Halldorson said. “He’s just so genuine and positive you gotta love him, it’s mandatory.”
With Jan. 20 in the past and February 20 in the near future, Comella loves to remind people that right now he is 100 and five months old.