PEOPLE Centenarian Project
‘Joie de vivre’ says 101-year old Mary Alice Wilson
by Ann Pepper
The first thing you notice about gregarious Mary Alice Wilson, who turned 101 in November, is how pretty she is – and then, it’s the joie de vivre.
“My grandfather used to say that he liked me because I had a joy for living,” Mary Alice said recently in her pleasant Mutual 14 living room.
That trait hasn’t faded in a century.
One of 10 children growing up together in Wabash, Ind., Mary Alice ran with a crowd of a dozen girls who spent their free time down at the lake, or who jumped into the kitchen, flipped Jack Benny onto the radio and popped popcorn or made fudge. They hiked together in the summer and went tobogganing in the winter. They’d go to basketball games, dances, and slumber parties and out on dates.
“It was a pretty ideal childhood, I guess,” said Mary Alice. “We were poor, but I suppose we didn’t know it. My mother was a seamstress and always made me pretty clothes. My friends would give me the greatest compliments. They’d say my clothes looked ‘boughten.’”
She’s always loved clothes, said Mary Alice, whose light pink cardigan made her ivory complexion bloom beneath her head of curly cropped white hair.
Maybe it was the clothes, but back in the day, something about Mary Alice caught the eye of Howard “Bud” Wilson, a handsome young man and a good dancer with a nifty maroon 1937 Ford convertible.
Their first date didn’t go so well. Another car smacked into the maroon convertible. It didn’t matter in the long run. Bud was “attractive, a gentleman, and above all, he had integrity and honesty,” Mary Alice said.
Bud worked for American Airlines, and Mary Alice loved being a third grade teacher. Married for 40 years, the couple had two sons, Howie, who they lost some years ago, and John, who has four children and lives in Texas.
“John is just a great guy,” said Mary Alice.
These days, Mary Alice’s robust life has slowed a bit, a small concession to her five score years and one.
Still, she and her caregiver, Jessylyn Guiao, go to Good Shepherd Presbyterian every Sunday and share a close relationship.
“She is an amazing woman,” Mary Alice said of her companion. “Very kind, always concerned about me.”
Jessylyn, in turn, takes pride in Mary Alice’s extensive ability to care for herself and the way she appreciates even the small things – like the clam chowder at the Fish Company.
Her secret to a long, happy life, Mary Alice said, is to not worry too much.
“Maybe you worry that it’s going to rain on the picnic, but you don’t think about it too much,” she said.
Also, she’s careful about her diet, and she’s never stopped exercising.
“I make it a point to walk every day,” she said.
And her sense of humor certainly helps keep her young.
Asked what she most likes to do for fun these days, Mary Alice gave a wry smile and answered: “Sleep.”
First workshop created excited hum
Over 70 people attended the first Centenarian Project workshop on Feb. 18, which featured Carl Bourhenne. He discussed 17 different factors that affect longevity including sleep, nutrition, social activity, stress control and so on.
People were eager to ask questions, most particularly about nutrition.
A lively discussion followed in which Mr. Bourhenne answered questions such as: “Is it too late in life to start doing anything like good nutrition or exercise?”
The answer was, “We need it even more now because the body is less able to handle junk food or salty food. The body needs good nutrition and exercise to function.”
There was an excited hum in the room, and many people lingered afterward to talk and ask more questions.
The next Centenarian Project workshop will be held March 20 in Clubhouse 3, Room 2. It will be led by Dr. Betty Coven who will discuss ways to deal with stress and the positive effects of keeping your brain active.
On the 100th day of 2014, April 10, the Centenarian Project will sponsor a luncheon in honor of the Leisure World centenarians. Entertainment and decorations will be by Tommy Williams. At a taste testing held recently the committee discovered an unbelievably delicious cream of mushroom soup which will be on the menu.
Tickets, $20 each, will be available in mid-March. A schedule of ticket sales will be announced in the News.
— Betty Coven
Come to St. Joseph’s Table March 5
At the February meeting of the Italian-American Club, members participated in a new game “A Day at the Horse Races,” complete with horse heads, tickets and a 16-inch dice. The game was fun for all and was followed by traditional bingo.
On Wednesday, March 5, the club will celebrate St. Joseph’s table. This is a tradition of sharing favorite Italian dishes, and so it works in perfectly with having a potluck.
“My famous meatballs will be my contribution for the St. Joseph’s table,” says President Frank Destra.
“I have a new recipe for fig- filled cookies I am going to use for my Italian dish,” says Martha Destra.
If everyone brings just a plate of his/her favorite dish, there will be abundant food. The club will furnish coffee, tea and water.
Dues for 2014 need to be paid by March 2 to attend meetings and be included in the membership list. Frank reminds everyone that membership is open to all Leisure World residents who are of Italian heritage or who enjoy Italian customs.
Like my mother always said, “There are two kinds of people in the world—Italians and the ones who want to be,” says Frank.
Call Membership Chair Martha Destra to become a member or to pay dues.
Purim will be celebrated with ‘laugh-in’
The Jewish holiday of Purim is celebrated with merriment. Laugh consultant Beverly Bender will lead the fun at the next Schmooze Club meeting on Tuesday, March 11, in Clubhouse 3, Room 9.
Refreshments will be served at 10 a.m., followed by Beverly’s program “A Purim Laugh-In” at 10:30. Beverly holds a master’s degree in gerontology and wrote her thesis on “Using Humor to Promote Life Satisfaction Among Older Adults.” Beverly encourages everyone to wear silly hats to add to the merriment.
Guests are welcome. Just bring a sense of humor and a smile to share.
As always, “there are no dues to schmooze (socialize).” There is no cost to attend this event. Donations are gratefully accepted.
To participate, RSVP as soon as possible to Evelyn Glick, 598-2022, or Darlene Rose, 296-5140. This will allow ample time to plan refreshments and to provide names of outside guests for Main Gate entry.
Computer/eBay classes taught
Computer classes conducted by the Friendship Club in Clubhouse 3, Room 4, are open to all Leisure Worlders and their guests.
A repeatable introduction to the personal computer (most versions) with Jeff Sacks will be conducted Monday, March 3, from 9-10 a.m., followed by open computer questions about PCs from 10-11 a.m. Questions about how to use Windows 8 or how to find a Windows 7 PC, when not available in nearby stores, can be included. New Windows 7 computers can still be purchased from Dell, online or by phone, and refurbished ones can be found by searching the Internet.
A discussion on the Apple Mac and Ipad begins at 11.
Wireless Internet is available in Clubhouse 3, so wireless laptops are welcome.
Light refreshments are served. The cost is $5 for the classes. For information, call Jeff Sacks, (714) 642-0122.
Respite Center is topic tomorrow
Pastor Gil Moore, pastor of Redeemer of Lutheran Church, will be the guest speaker at he Sunshine Club meeting, tomorrow, Feb. 28, at 10 a.m. in Clubhouse 3, Room 8.
Pastor Moore will talk about the Respite Care program at Redeemer Lutheran Church. The program meets in the church’s fellowship hall on Tuesdays and Fridays, and provides activities geared primarily for adults with mild dementia. The program allows home caregivers a time of respite. Pastor Moore will explain the program and how a person can participate as a client or as a volunteer.
Pastor Moore and his wife, Lavona have been residents in Mutual ,9 for 25 years. He has been serving as the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church for the past 10 years. The Respite Care program was established during his first year as the congregation’s pastor.
For over 20 years, Pastor Moore served as a parish pastor at congregations in Idaho, Seattle, Wash., Hawaii, and Los Angeles. For the next 20 years, he served as an administrator of church related retirement and nursing homes.
During his “retirement” years, and before becoming the pastor at Redeemer, he served 15 times as an interim pastor or as an interim administrator of retirement and nursing homes.
In addition to his certification as a pastor, he is a licensed nursing home administrator, retirement home administrator and a marriage, family, child counselor.
This is an opportunity for those who are caregivers for a family members or friends with mild dementia to get information to provide them with a time of respite.
The Sunshine Club meets Fridays in Clubhouse 3, Room 8, from 10 a.m.-noon. It is an English-speaking class. Shareholders from all ethnic backgrounds are welcome to attend. No membership is required. Refreshments are provided.
Variety of musicians will perform
The Nikkei Club of Leisure World will meet Saturday, March 8, in Clubhouse 4. The doors will be open by 10:30 a.m. Lunch will be served shortly after 11 a.m.
The business meeting will be conducted by Victor Kambe, president. He will appoint a nominating committee for next year’s officers.
After the business meeting the entertainment program will commence.
Max Cabadona will coordinate the program consisting of seven performers.
Max hails from the “Big Island” of Hawaii, and is a graduate of Hilo High School. After serving in the Army, he moved to California and worked in the aerospace industry. He is a widower and has children and grandchildren.
Max has performed at many events in California and Hawaii. Twice a year he performs for reunions in Las Vegas.
Jay and Bennie Dela Cruz have performed with Max for a long time. They have two children and a granddaughter who is a champion baton twirler. Jay is a native of Kauai. Bennie is an outstanding singer and a nursing graduate of USC.
Stan Shiroma originally from Honolulu, will sing Japanese songs.
Johnny and Sherrie Vanek are big additions to the group. Johnny has a great talent as a singer with a unusually smooth voice. Sherrie will add a pleasant female touch to the singing Vaneks.
Their friend Fransua Francoeur has agreed to perform with them. He is a well-known singer in LW.
‘Bintl Briv’ will be featured
The Yiddish Club of Leisure World will meet Thursday, March 6, in Clubhouse 3, Room 2, at 7 p.m. The topic will be “The Bintl Briv,” letters to the editor.
In 1906 a column, “A Bintl Briv,” was published in the Yiddish newspaper in America, “The Forward.” It became so popular that it is often used as part of American Yiddish. When the Yiddish speak of an interesting event in family life, it is often said the event is like “a remarkable story, just for ‘Bintl Briv.’”
After new words and proverbs in Yiddish are introduced the president of the club will discuss the topic and letters of the “Bintl Briv” will be recited.
Refreshments will be served after the program.
Class teaches foreign speakers
The English acquisition class with an emphasis on accent reduction taught by Kuniko Ikemori Okamoto has met for the past month.
The first few sessions included correction of the common erroneous sounds of foreign language speakers (a, aw, r, er, ch, z) in isolation, words and sentences. The sounds are taught by proper placement of the tongue, teeth and the opening of the oral cavity.
People may have taken English lessons, but when foreign accents are present, listeners have difficulty understanding the speakers.
As a student is orally producing a sentence, the teacher writes it on the board and then encourages the student to recognize the grammatical errors. Diagramming is used to teach the construction of various sentences. The conjugation of verbs, grammatical rules, vocabulary and reading comprehension are also taught.
Foreign language speakers are encouraged to participate in this class.
Kuniko is a speech/language pathologist and state-credentialed English as a second language teacher and resource specialist.
The Sunshine Club sponsors the ESL class that meets Tuesdays, in Clubhouse 3, Room 7, from 10-11:30 a.m. There is $5 per month class preparation fee.
Anyone who would like to attend, contact Anna Derby, 598-6796.