Bennett vaccination

Lori Brock administered the second COVID-19 vaccine dose to her father, Robert Bennett, on Thursday, Feb. 11.

Lori Brock figures she’s given about 125 COVID-19 vaccinations, but the arm she’s preparing to pierce is like no other.

“This is a special one,” Brock, a registered nurse, said late Thursday morning, Feb. 11, at the Baker County Health Department.

The right arm she’s peering at, needle in hand, belongs to her father.

Robert Bennett is 97.

He’s a World War II veteran, a Marine who served in the Pacific Theater.

And in the span of a few seconds, thanks to his daughter’s deft hand, Bennett has had his second dose of the Moderna vaccine.

“That didn’t take long,” Bennett said, rolling down the sleeve of his plaid shirt.

But he got something more than an inoculation.

His daughter leans in for a hug.

“I get to hug him now that he’s fully vaccinated,” Brock said. “You’re good to go, Dad.”

Bennett all but leaps from his chair with a spryness that belies a man a little more than two years from the century mark (he turns 98 in June).

His daughter reminds him that he has to sit in the waiting room for 15 minutes in case he has a reaction to the shot.

Bennett seems unconcerned.

The only effect from the first shot about a month ago was a slightly sore arm, he said.

That’s why he asked his daughter to poke his right shoulder, the same one he bared for the first inoculation.

He sleeps on the other arm.

Brock said a different nurse gave her dad his first shot.

She was happy to be able to handle the second inoculation that fully protects him.

Bennett owns the Pondosa Store, along Highway 203 near Medical Springs, about 20 miles northeast of Baker City.

Besides being a veteran, he is a former first responder with the Medical Springs Rural Fire Protection District, and he donated the property where the district’s fire station was built.

Bennett said that although his store — the only place to get a cold soda or an ice cream sandwich between Baker City and Union on the relatively lightly traveled Highway 203 — has been closed for the past couple of months, he plans to reopen the first of March.

He moved to Baker City in 1983 after taking an early retirement from a Georgia Pacific mill in Springfield, Oregon.

Bennett said he took over operating the Pondosa store from his brother-in-law, who died in 1983.

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