Seniors share secrets to longevity at annual Council on Aging luncheon for nonagenarians, centenarians


Those seeking the secrets to living a long, healthy life need search no more, for they were revealed last week at the St. Johns County Council on Aging’s annual luncheon honoring local nonagenarians and centenarians. Held Wednesday, May 23 at THE PLAYERS Community Senior Center, the event celebrated more than two dozen seniors who have reached or surpassed the milestone age of 90 years old.

Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Beach, the event included a lunch served by the Landrum Middle School IMPACT Club, as well as entertainment by harpist and violinist Sue Tice. In addition to the honorees’ friends and family members, representatives from local businesses and senior services organizations were in attendance, as well as County Commissioner Jimmy Johns and School Board Member Kelly Barrera.

“What an amazing day to celebrate the wonderful and beautiful lives of the people in this room today,” said Council on Aging Board Member and Rotarian Bruce Barber.

Serving as the master of ceremonies, Barber recognized each honoree by name, asking them their tips for longevity.

Ruth Conley, a dedicated church-goer and avid Jacksonville Symphony fan, said she wouldn’t have been able to make it to age 97 without “faith, family and music.”

Roz Beck, meanwhile, attributed her 97 years to divine intervention.

“I think there’s an angel above me looking after me,” she said. “I was a great champion golfer, and swimmer and diver, and I’m an artist.”

Maxine Bohn, 99, was concise in her answer of “love, learn and laugh,” and Bud Baisden, also 99, surprised all with his one-word response.

“Vitamins,” he said. “Seriously, take them.”

Of all the secrets to long life shared that day, however, there was one that was particularly ill-kept, as it was displayed on each of the honorees’ faces: happiness.

As for the source of that happiness, centenarian Bobbie West said it had taken her most of her life to pin it down.

“Happiness,” the 102-year-old said, “is having someone to love, having something to do and having something to look forward to.”

And for those who might wonder what there is to look forward to once the vitality of youth has gone, 97-year-old Nelson Johnson had a few words of comfort.

“Hang in there, folks,” he said. “The best is yet to come.”