Today’s super-seniors have hustle that just won’t quit. This month, we bring you stories of three seniors who have drive, passion and YOLO attitude that the years just can’t touch. Caregivers, home care aides and loved ones will enjoy reading about these three super-seniors who are telling their own stories, running their own races, and having their own adventures.
Betty Reid Soskin enjoys her job as a National Park Ranger at the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, CA. She took the job 12 years ago after helping her local state assemblywoman plan the park, offering insight into the exhibits and presentations. She didn’t intend to become a park ranger but decided that she wanted to deliver the history of the era to park visitors herself. This would be a great story of turning a volunteer opportunity into a job and possible career path, except that Betty, then age 85, wasn’t looking for a career. Nevertheless, she persisted and today, at age 97, she still speaks to an SRO crowd three times a week at the park’s auditorium. Betty considers herself a ‘primary source’ for the American story during WWII: the Rosie the Riveters – the tens of thousands of women who entered the workforce during WWII to build America’s war machine – as well as many others not as widely told at the time. During her lifetime, Betty worked at a union hall, joined the Air Force, married, was a Berkeley faculty wife, a singer, an activist, and ran her family’s record store. Those would be more than sufficient laurels for most of us to rest upon, but Betty intends to stay with the National Park Service. She wants to continue to inspire, educate and give voice to the history she’s lived and witnessed.
We share a lot of stories about seniors competing in marathons in their seventies, eighties and even nineties. But Ginette Bedard is not like most of those athletes, who began running to improve or maintain their health, and who enjoy competing against their peers. Ginette ran in her 16th New York City Marathon this November, and at age 85, she was the oldest woman to start and finish the race. That’s in a field of more than 50,000 runners! She insists that she doesn’t need an elaborate training schedule or diet because she runs for three hours every day, and she’s always ready to race. She doesn’t give up wine, cheese, or even ice cream, because she believes in moderation in everything – except, apparently, running! The Frenchwoman, who’s lived in Queens since she emigrated in the 1970’s, used to run for exercise, but she took up marathon running at age 69. Ginette runs to stay busy, and to beat loneliness since the death of her husband, but the wall full of medals that she’s won prove that she’s a true competitor.
Yet another centenarian took to the sky last month to celebrate his milestone birthday. Skydiving nonagenarians and centenarians are becoming more common, but many people of any age sensibly draw the line at jumping out of a perfectly functional plane. For super-seniors with zest and common sense, ziplines are a great alternative. Bob Miller, who turned 100 just before Halloween, rode the zipline with gusto at a Tennessee adventure park to celebrate the big day. This zipline rush isn’t new for Bob, either, since he’s celebrated the same way every year for the last five years. Bob, who walks a couple miles a day, wears a fitness tracker, and can boast of climbing several of the world’s highest mountains, says the hardest part is getting to the zipline launch pad. Bob’s birthday wish is continued health, and another go at the zipline next year!