This week, we bring you stories of seniors leading by example, and inspiring others with their attitude. Also, we have updates for you on two of our most popular inspiring seniors from 2015. As Jackie Joyner-Kersee, the most decorated Olympic track and field athlete ever, said, “Age is no barrier. It’s a limitation you put on your mind.” Caregivers, home care aides, and loved ones know that these seniors aren’t living to inspire, they’re just living inspiring lives.
Harold Elsesser has been volunteering with Habitat For Humanity since 1989, and has logged more than 20,000 hours with them. At age 92, Harold is such an inspiration to those around him that he has his own groupies, volunteers who want to work the same site he’s working, just to be near him. Harold spent his years in the navy on the U.S.S. Intrepid, and moved on to the transportation industry, as a potato truck driver. Not long before retirement in the late 1980’s he took up construction, and a week after retiring, he picked up his tool belt and reported to Habitat. For many years, Harold went to Habitat work sites six days a week, and only recently cut down to two days a week. He’s been volunteering with them for more than 25 straight years, and is only surpassed by President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter in length of service. That’s pretty amazing company to be in, Harold!
The bucket list is a relatively new idea that people everywhere are using to track the life experiences they don’t want to miss, before they ‘kick the bucket’. Most people’s lists include things like travel, adventure, and pushing personal boundaries. Annie, a lovely Dutch woman, had always wanted to see the inside of a jail cell. At age 99, neither her niece nor her town’s police department were prepared to disappoint her. While civilians are not usually allowed inside the cells, a local police officer signed on to help. This good guy arranged for Annie to be picked up by the po-po, cuffed, and perp walked into the town jail. Annie was delighted, and finally crossed that item off her list. No word on what’s next for her, but if she mentions jewel heist, her family might want to think twice!
Also this month, we have some updates on seniors we’ve featured previously in Seniors in the News. Speaking of jewel heists, in November 2015 we told you about smooth jewel thief Doris Payne, then age 85, who had been stealing high-end jewelry all over the U.S. and Europe since 1953. Despite spending time in jail all over the country, she never gave up her passion, and continued with her sticky-fingered ways. In fact, she stole a diamond necklace in December 2016 from a store in Georgia mall. She made the news 16 months ago because she had been caught stealing earrings at a Saks Fifth Avenue in Atlanta. This month, Doris’ latest trial was postponed indefinitely because her health is too poor at this time to proceed. Get better soon, Doris! You may be on the wrong side of the law, but you’re a gem in your own right.
And finally, the San Diego Pearl Harbor survivor we featured in December 2015, when he was a sprightly 103, has reached another milestone. Ray Chavez, of Poway, turned 105 on March 10 and is still going to the gym twice a week. He attended the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor in December 2016, and has no plans to stop sharing his memories of the attack at special events. He was celebrated on the U.S.S. Midway last weekend with a special concert, as befits San Diego’s national treasure.