21 Seal Beach Centenarians Honored for 100 Years of Life

Alice Martasin, who will turn 101 on May 28,  shows her certificate of recognition from the city of Seal Beach during a luncheon held by the nonprofit Golden Age Foundation at Leisure World on April 9. The event celebrated 24 people who are or will soon be 100 and older. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

How does one manage to live 100 years?

“I think physical and mental activity, you need them both,” said Clifford Pedersen, who turns 102 in July. “I used to run a lot in road races, and I used to ski a lot in the winter. And as far as the mental, I do puzzles.”

Pedersen was one of 21 centenarians honored at a special luncheon in Seal Beach’s Leisure World retirement community on April 9. Each centenarian received a corsage and a city certificate of recognition from the mayor, Thomas Moore. More than 220 friends and family members attended the sold-out event, sponsored by the Golden Age Foundation.

About 60 of Leisure World’s 9,000 residents are 100 years old or older. Though the number of centenarians in the U.S. is growing, they are still relatively rare: the estimated 80,000 constitute only .02% of the population.

Their longevity is especially remarkable when considering the average life expectancy in their birth year: in 1919, it was 53.5 years for men and 56 years for women.

“It was not easy growing up 100 years ago,” Moore told the audience. “I’m sure that among you are thousands of stories that would fascinate all of us.”

Sporting a black fedora with “World War II Veteran” stitched on the crown, Pedersen recounted one of those stories with daughter Jo Maldonado at his side.

Before serving in the U.S. Army in Italy and Africa during World War II, Pedersen was part of 15,000 U.S. troops on board the liner and troopship RMS Queen Mary in 1942. In a tragedy that wasn’t publicly reported until after the war, the Queen Mary collided with an escort cruiser, HMS Curacoa, outside of Ireland, killing 337 crew members of the Curacoa. The incident has been called one WWII’s best-kept secrets.

When asked what advice he would give to live a good life, Pedersen said to “accept what comes your way without complaining too much.”

It’s an attitude characteristic of his demographic cohort, the “Greatest Generation.” People born between 1901 and 1924 are considered exceptionally resilient. Born in a time when electricity, cars, indoor plumbing, movies and radios were still catching on, they had to work through the crippling uncertainty of the Great Depression and the turmoil of WWII.

Gloria Serafano, who turns 100 on April 21 and attended the luncheon with her daughter Rose Marie Fenell, epitomizes the hardiness of her peer group. A second-generation Italian American born in Philadelphia, Serafano utilized resourcefulness, faith and a positive attitude to navigate the twists and turns in her century of life.

She left school at 15 to help her widowed mother support her four siblings and married at 18. After her first husband died in the early 1940s

A friend moved to California and urged her to come. Serafano got on a Greyhound bus and left the East Coast for the West. She found a job at an aircraft company in Downey, working as a real-life Rosie the Riveter. Though the term represented thousands of women who found work in manufacturing during the war, Serafano was an actual riveter, operating a riveting gun on P-38 bomber wings., Serafano struggled to make ends meet as a single mother of then-2-year-old Fenell.

“Before the women’s rights movement [of the 1960s and 70s], Mom was a modern woman ahead of her time and didn’t let anything get her down,” said Fenell, who lives in Riverside County. “Wherever she went, she belonged and excelled.”

After the war, Serafano became a librarian for system development and engineering tech for the former Douglas Aircraft company in Downey. She found love and loss again, experiencing the deaths of three beloved husbands in her lifetime. When asked how she endured such difficulty and lived so long, Serafano credited her Catholic faith and her ability to love.

Aliese Muhonen is a contributor to TimesOC.com Follow her on Twitter at @AlieseMuhonen.

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L.A. Times Reporter Interviews Residents

Article by By Aliese Muhonen , Apr 12, 2019 | 10:00 AM, Los Angeles Times

The month preceding the GAF Centenarian Luncheon several centenarians told parts of their life stories before video cameras. It was my privilege to conduct some of these interviews to help comprehend how such long lives developed.

 They were responsive, alert, contented and eager to share. All born from 1917-1919, have strong memories about surviving a tough time during the “Great Depression.” 

Each had accounts of families, work, love and loss. Robert Lynch greeted me with his wife of 78 years in their Leisure World unit. 

Only one, Victor Kambe, was born a Californian. As a first generation American, he was also the only one to face a challenge of his loyalty to our country twice. 

First when his family was sent to internment camp at outset of WWII, and again, when he was released from the camp and dismissed from a civil service job he had acquired to help the nation fight the war. Three spent parts of their early years in Oklahoma. 

Several were Methodists. All had educations above the average of cohorts. I enjoyed these conversations. All are now somewhat frail, but use humor and strong voices to recount experiences. 

A lady rode horseback for recreation. Another wondered if trips to Las Vegas could be considered an activity. Lois McMindes has a lifelong focus on helping indigenous people on reservations that led to having one she calls her son. 

It is impressive to listen to what they have to tell of lives 10 times 10 years long. The value of life story writing was first impressed on me in Leisure World.

 I took a course with Thelma Kramar. She advertised in LW News to teach her to use a computer in exchange for helping with transcription of student stories. 

It was an interesting and enriching experience. Thelma recruited two of the class to become “public access producers” attending classes offered by Seal Beach Community TV, Robin Forte-Linke. Use of Video to record life stories was the aim. It is very rewarding so I have continued an interest in this activity for many years as a member of LW Video Producers Club.

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Interviews by Leisure World News Reporter

by Cathie Merz cathiem_news@lwsb.com

 Clubhouse 4 was filled to capacity with Leisure World centenarians, their families, friends, and Seal Beach dignitaries Mayor Thomas Moore and Council Member Sandra Massa-Levitt. 

The Golden Age Foundation hosted the luncheon that was attended by 21 shareholders who will be 100 years old this year or older. Each centenarian received a corsage and a city certificate of recognition from Mayor Moore. 

The two oldest shareholders in attendance were Marguerite Novak, who goes to the LW gym every day to stay healthy, and Lois Campbell. Both of the ladies will be 104 later this year.

 Alice M. Martasin, who will be 101 next month, still lives alone and rode the LW Minibus to the event. World War II veterans Jerry Uva, who turned 100 last month, and Clifford Pederson, 101, sat together sporting caps saluting veterans. 

Robert Lynch, 101, was there with his wife, Rosalie. They have been married for 78 years and there is little doubt, the way they look, that they will make it to 80 years when Rosalie will be 100. 

Several of the guests of honor were interviewed by Mary Apte, who put together a video montage that was shown at the luncheon. Many of the centenarians shared their stories that were published in LW Weekly leading up to the luncheon and others will follow. 

Randy Ankeny, GRF executive administrator; Thomas Moore, mayor of Seal Beach; and Sandy Geffner, GAF treasurer; made congratulatory remarks. 

Entertainment was provided by Andre DuSomme, Tosca Lies, Holly Thompson, Jay Nesser and Lori Porter. The corsages and boutonnieres were donated by City of Seal Beach from the “Jean Thursday” collection, Council Member Massa-Lavitt and Mayor Moore. They also donated the flowers for the center pieces. 

The afternoon came to a close with remarks from GAF President Anna Derby pointing out traits that Okinawa, Japan, where the world’s largest population of healthy older adults reside, and Leisure World have in common.

 • A cultural environment that reinforces healthy lifestyle habits like diet and exercise 

• Healthy social relationships and psychological well-being 

• People who have a cooperative spirit 

• People who tend gardens 

• Public health that is easily accessible 

• Seniors are valued as members of their family and the community.

  The luncheon was organized by the social committee, Linda Johnson, Nikki Weisel and Derby. The lunch was catered by Rivera’s of Long Beach. 

The event was videotaped by the Video Producers Club members Paul Bassett, Michael Oh and Irene Cistaro and will air on Seal Beach TV-3 at a later date. 

“We live in a community with wonderful opportunities to meet neighbors and kind  friends. And we have easily accessible amenities we can use to maintain our healthy living. We value centenarians as members of our family and the community,” said Derby in closing.

 “Please take good care of each and every one of you and stay happy and healthy until we see you next time”.

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Youth choir sing for Centenarians
Anna Derby address Centenarians
Randy Ankeny addresses seniors
Alice Martasin

Meet Adele Conrad of Mutual 5

Written by Loni Gradate

Adele Conrad

Adele was born April 25, 1918 and was raised in Northern Michigan.  She speaks of her life as a teenager when things were very different and life appeared to be a much simpler time. During the winter there would be one or two big blizzards and kids would walk to school behind the snow plow.  There were no cafeterias at school, none of the amenities that are standard in today’s schools.  This was during the Depression and everyone was in the same situation, everyone walked and carried their books and lunches.

There was a large ice skating rink downtown and on Friday and Saturday nights the City would light it up and play music and the kids would skate and have the best time.  It was great growing up and she had big fun in High School and very happy teenaged years.

In Adele’s life there was a love of music and dancing, and lots of outdoor activities.  After church on Sunday’s she would cross country ski and during the summer months there were picnics and swimming in the lakes along with other seasonal activities.  Berry picking was high on the list.  Strawberries and blue berries were easy but black berries or raspberries, not so much.  

As a young adult career choices for young women were limited. Always wanting to be a nurse, Adele chose to attend Rush Medical School in Chicago for her nursing education.  She remembers that her mother was not too happy to have her go so far from home.

At barely 18 Adele got on that train to Chicago. 

Chicago was such a shock with so many people and an energetic hustle and bustle which was very different from her home in Northern Michigan.  Suddenly she was experiencing big life changes; a first solo big train ride, a first ride in a taxi, and a first school away from home where she was greeted by a matronly lady, whom she grew to love.  By the end of the first week Adele had met all of her new classmates and embarked on an education and career.  

A typical day off would see Adele go off to explore downtown Chicago all by herself, and she was perfectly safe.  

One day while studying for an up-coming exam, a classmate coaxed her to go on a double date.  Not really liking to double date, however she said, “I’ll go if you teach me how to smoke, and she did.  I lit up, inhaled, my head went down on her shoulder and I broke my eyeglasses. The good news was the blind date turned out to be my future husband, Avon.”  

Avon and Adele dated all through her last year of nursing school and after graduating in 1939, she married Avon Conrad, a wonderful person, dancer, and the joy and love of her life.

During that time in Chicago all the big bands would come to town to play and we would go to hear them and dance the night away.

And then there were the war years.  While Adele was working private practice, many nurses were signing up like crazy.  However she and Avon decided she would best support the war effort by staying and working in the hospitals.  Adele was in charge of a surgical floor.  Adele’s sister came to live with her while her husband, an Airforce pilot, was away.  

During this time new medicines were being introduced.  There was sulfanilamide and penicillin, which was so new it was almost experimental.  It was an enlightening time to be a nurse.

A typical workday saw her leave home at 6a.m. while it was still dark and she had no fear of her surroundings.

Avon returned from WWII in 1945 and they started a family.  They had three girls, each born two years apart, when they decided to transfer to Edina, Minneapolis.  They bought our first home and they made a decision that Adele would become a stay-at-home mom and be there for the children.  

Avon was a West Coast Sales Manager which required a lot of traveling, and his territory included Hawaii.  Two or three times a year Adele would be invited to join him.  During which time he would work and she would explore the local scene.  This was before Hawaii was the main travel attraction it is today, and she was the envy of her friends and neighbors.

And they continued to dance.  With a church choir director friend they formed a social club of twelve couples who loved to dance.  They met once a month.  The club grew and they were able to maintain a certain number.  A local hotel let them have a room to set up a hired band and hold monthly dances.  They even did theme dances.  The hotel manager was so impressed with their dedication and organization, he allowed them to use a room at no cost.  And they danced some more.

One day clear out of the blue, Avon saw a wonderful organ on sale and next thing she knew they were the proud owner of that brand new organ.  Adele already knew how to play the violin and perhaps Avon thought they would expand their musical accomplishments.  With no music books or lessons, Adele learned the keyboard and became quite accomplished player.  Though they tried a lesson or two they really didn’t get very much out of it, and she did much better on her own.

When their last daughter finished college, Avon looked at Adele and said “it’s time to travel” and they did.  They both loved to travel and now they could afford it.  They visited the Holy Land which was very special to both of them.  There was a trip to China prior to Britton giving it back; a couple of beautiful trips to Europe.  They visited New Zealand, and took various cruises.

On one trip to Europe they returned home on the Queen Elizabeth.  They were three days out and a terrible storm came down out of Canada.  It was late afternoon and the sea was rough and choppy, and by dinner time the ship was rolling.  While Avon was sound asleep, Adele was wide awake and afraid.  Finally in the wee hours Adele fell asleep and Avon woke up.  They could see there was a big mess to clean up and before it was over, they ended up halfway to Bermuda, which was not their final destination.  Adele will tell you that was one scary trip home.  

She will also tell you that he was the best travel buddy and she laughs out loud at some of their memories.

After having been alone for several years, Adele moved to Leisure World in 2002.  Not having good luck visiting homes for sale, a friendly realtor encouraged (practically insisted) Adele come to Leisure World and see a newly vacated unit in Mutual 5, and the rest is history.  One of her favorite places to visit is the Leisure World library.  She loves to read and mysteries are her favorite.

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Chizulu Boyea, Mutual 11

Interviewed  by Nickie Weisel 

Chizuru was born on December 12, 1919 in Terminal Island which is located in East San Pedro, CA. 

Chiz moved to Leisure World in 1992 and has seen a great deal of changes during her approximately 27 years of living here. 

She told me that she loves to garden and has planted a lot of the plants in her front yard of the same unit she moved into back in 1992. 

*Some informational things about Chizuru are:

• Chizuru’s birthplace in Terminal Island (East San Pedro, CA) was a Japanese Fishing Village. Her family was one of the 109,000 Japanese Americans (including 70,000 U.S. citizens of Japanese descent) who were unjustly incarcerated in 1942 for the duration of WWII by the U.S. government under President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. Chiz’s family and others lost their livelihoods, homes and all belongings as they had 48 hours to report to one of fifteen incarceration centers located in desolate inland locations of the United States. Their new living conditions in the incarceration centers were barb wire fences, armed guards, barren landscapes and ramshackle barracks with straw beds they had to stuff themselves. 

• Prior to the incarceration, her father was a Fisherman and captain of his own boat. Chiz’s father would also travel to Sacramento as the Japanese American representative negotiating on behalf of the thriving Terminal Island fishing industry with the California Fish and Game Commission. Her mother stayed home with the 5 children. Chiz is the oldest of 5 children and is the only living sibling in her family. 

• Chiz has five grown children who live in Sweden, California, and New Orleans. They are Aki, Sean, Paul, Shivaun and Bruce. 

• Four of Chiz’s children were born in New York and one in California. 

• All of Chiz’s children have either Japanese middle names or first names. Many of her grandchildren and great grandchildren have Japanese middle names and she named each one of them. Chiz has 5 grown children, 13 grand-children and 12 great grandchildren. Her maiden name is Nakaji. She enjoys FaceTiming with her great grandchildren and remembers all of the grand children’s birthdays.

• Chiz lives on a healthy diet, exercises regularly; including wheelchair walks every day and chair exercise each week. She does not take any prescription medication. Chiz also loved the Astronomy Club, Garden Club and did Ceramics, Lapidary and Silver in CH4 for many years.  

•  Chiz moved to Long Beach from New York in 1958 and retired in 1982. She helped watch four of her grandchildren for several years and then a friend encouraged her to move into Leisure World.

• In Chiz’s professional life, she was a Librarian in Long Beach for over 20 years. She was also a Medical Librarian at the New York Academy of Medicine, a Music Librarian at Sarah Lawrence College in New York and a Librarian at Consumers Union in their New York headquarters. She also won many awards for her genius math mind and her grandchildren growing up used to come to her for help with math, especially trigonometry and calculus. Chiz was taking trigonometry tests in high school while others took the same tests in college.

• Chiz’s father had a British accent and she and her siblings liked to tease him about pronouncing things wrong. Her father would say “can’t” with a strong British accent and she and her siblings would say “No Papa, not cawnt, it’s caaaan’t” with a California accent. Her father developed his British accent as he was taught English in Japan by professors from Oxford in England. Her father enjoyed reading the LA Times and Chiz and her siblings would read the comics section. 

• Chiz attended college at Los Angeles City College, Kyoto University in Japan and graduated from Syracuse University with a Masters degree in Library Science. She also attended The New School for Social Research in New York City which is a college known for its progressive thinkers. 

• Chiz met her husband Samuel A. Boyea at The New School for Social Research and they were married for 24 years. Samuel was the drama critic for the Long Beach Press Telegram and was also a playwright in New York and California.  

• Chiz told us she had two responsibilities for her 5 kids.  

 1. Make sure they learn to swim       

2. Make sure they graduate from high school. After that they’re on their own. She must have done something right because all of her kids graduated from college having advanced degrees and successful careers.

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Josephine Pickerell, Mutual 15

     Josephine Pickerell or “Jo” as she likes to be called by friends and family, is a bright, stylish mother of five and grandmother of seven. She is also one of Leisure World’s lovely centenarians! Jo and her husband Duane arrived in Leisure World fourteen years ago after waving farewell to their beautiful Woodland Hills home.  A daughter who lives in Fountain Valley introduced them to Leisure World, and here they decided to settle and begin a new adventure in life. Duane became a Mutual 15’s Board Director for a short time while Jo immediately began enjoying the Ceramic Club. You can see evidence of her artistic talent represented in all the beautiful ceramic pieces she’s produced, as well as the lovely oil color paintings that adorn her walls.

      Jo’s life began on June 13, 1917 in Kansas City, Missouri. Her mother passed away when she was very young and she was raised by her father and a step-mother that Jo remembers as ‘a very good and caring person’. Being the daughter of a lawyer, Jo fondly recalls her father strongly encouraging her to finish her higher education, which was quite forward thinking for a father to tell a daughter at that time. Armed with her family’s ingrained lessons of morality, honesty and the importance of being a good person, Jo went out into the world and earned a degree in Psychology from the University of Missouri. However, what really resonated as her authentic calling, came not from her college major but from her college minor, which was Art.  Jo is an artist, and you know how it goes: Once an artist always an artist!

     College brought Jo another joy. It was there that she met the love of her life and future husband, Duane Pickerell. A year after graduation, Jo and Duane married only to have their life put on hold when Duane was drafted and sent to the South Pacific to fight in WWII.

Five years later, Jo remembers a time of great celebration and gratitude when Duane safely returned home.  Now they were able to begin their real-life adventure together. They first settled in Chicago where Jo showcased her artistic talent as a home decorator. At one point in her career she had two of her homes highlighted in National Magazines.

Later Jo and Duane became the parents of five children; 2 boys and 3 girls (2 of the girls are identical twins).  Those twins were quite a surprise to her in her 40’s. Jo will tell you those twins turned out to be the most wonderful gift she could ever have been given.  Three of her children took after her with a love of Art! After raising a family Jo and Duane found themselves empty nesters and finally had time to enjoy their love of travel. This second ‘true love’ lead them to Europe, which they visited more than once.  One of their favorite places was the Louvre in Paris. They also enjoyed memorable trips to Rome and Greece. Jo is very grateful to have taken those trips while Duane was still with her to enjoy them. Jo’s advice: “go NOW and see all those beautiful things while you still can.”  

     Searching for direction in your life? Jo suggests, “Take each day with no worries about tomorrow…and find a good hobby!” Ceramics anyone!  Words of wisdom from a well-lived creative life, 73 years of a happy marriage filled with the joys of raising a loving family, and a sense of adventure to explore and travel the world!

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Fern Ward, Mutual 15

“What is the most amazing thing you have seen in your lifetime?”  Fern’s immediate response was “Seeing and speaking to Queen Elizabeth who was then Princess Elizabeth.  It was about 1955 and Princess Elizabeth was on her honeymoon with Phillip in Africa.  Elizabeth’s father was ill at the time and she was forced to return to London to be crowned Queen”.  Who is Fern?  She is Fern Ward, one of our 2019 honored Centenarians at Leisure World. 

Fern was born in Idaho.  What year?  Fern said “well, I’m 100 years old”, so let’s say 1918.  Fern’s parents came to the USA from Sweden and they lived in South Dakota, Washington and Idaho where it was cold and snowy so they decided to move to a warm, sunny place and settled in Arizona.  Fern’s mother lived to the age of 100, “same as me”, she said and her father lived to the age of 93.  The family traveled over much of the USA as her father worked with the Barnum and Bailey Circus.  Fern says it was a great experience but sadly in today’s world there are no circuses. 

In high school Fern studied commercial classes which included typing accounting andoffice procedures, so her first job was in an office where she worked for 3 years until one day her boss told her that she should go to college so she could meet someone and get married.  She enrolled and graduated from the State College in Flagstaff, AZ and that is where she met her husband Brewer Ward in 1941.  She obtained a degree in Early Childhood Education and began her lifetime career as a school teacher.  Her first position was teaching children in kindergarten and this was her favorite job.   During her 18 year career she taught at local elementary and high schools in Compton, Paramount and Long Beach, California.

Brewer served in the military during World War II in 1941 and they married in July, 1943.  Fern and Brewer had 2 children, a daughter, Jessee and a son, Brewer, Jr.  Jessee is a teacher and Brewer, Jr. a professor at Cal State Long Beach.  She also has 4 grandchildren and they are doing well in their lives.  Husband Brewer also followed a career in education, and held positions as a teacher, professor and worked for the Board of Education in the Human Resources arena.  Fern said they enjoyed a comfortable financial status over her lifetime, much different then when she grew up during the depression, everybody was poor.  

Fern is happy to say her health is generally good and every time she visits the Doctor he gives her a good report.  She enjoys eating her meals, has a good appetite and her favorite dish is macaroni and cheese.  Fern says she sleeps well but doesn’t know how many hours shesleeps but admits she may take a couple short naps during the day, and one thing she does enjoy and looks forward to everyday is a glass of red wine.  

In her younger years Fern was an avid hiker.  She and her husband were active with the Sierra Club and were preparing to hike up to Mt. Whitney however, Brewer suffered a heart attack and they were unable to make that trip.  Fern didn’t remember how old Brewer was, but said he was young.  

The Ward family attended the Presbyterian Church in Long Beach and lived in the Long Beach area for many years before she and Brewer moved to Leisure World. Fern has lived in Leisure World for 18 years and is very happy here.  Fern is able to walk about in her home with her caretaker looking after her.  Fern introduced her caretaker Sorean and says Sorean is a wonderful companion and she takes wonderful care of her.  Fern has an extensive doll collection, collected during her worldwide travels and Sorean shared that they will take a short walk to the room to look at the dolls and Fern talks about them.  They expressed deep appreciation for each other.  

Fern recommends that we should all be “happy and try to be safe and careful.  Everyone should travel as much as possible because when we travel we get to see how other people live and learn so much about our history”.  As we ended our interview Fern said “I’ve had more than my share of the good life.   Be happy, happy to keep on living.  Life has changed since I was in my 30’s, 40’s, today I am happy sitting here and rocking in my chair watching all my soaps and a bit of news on channels 2 and 8”.

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Barbara Laboyreau, Mutual 14

by Teresa Subia 

When Barbara Laboyteau was born on July 22, 1918 the USA was engaged in WW1 and then it ended in November 1918.  Barbara tells us she was born at home on the family farm in Indiana where she was raised, attended elementary school and some high school until about the age of 14.  Barbara shared there were no school buses then, so they were transported to elementary school on a “hack” which was a cube-like buggy painted green and drawn by 2 brown horses and driven by a woman.  She attended elementary school to 8th grade, then she attended high school in town, New Castle, Indiana.  She laughingly recalled that it snowed a lot in Indiana and high drifts of snow formed on the road that the “hack” couldn’t cross, so the driver would have the children all climb out and instruct them to be ready to give a big, strong push to get the “hack” over the drift, and off they’d go to the next drift!

After her first day of high school her mother wanted to know how her day went and the experience of being in a strange place.  Barbara told her mother “I was afraid but I didn’t cry, I just had tears in my eyes and at the back of the room they had a little black box where you put your pencil and it would come out sharpened”  She smiled and then said “and now we have all these modern computers and who needs a pencil”.  Her early years consisted of helping at home, going to church and doing well in school.

  Before she graduated from high school her father died and it was about 1933 when the banks failed. At that time there was no FDIC, bank insurance like today.  So, her family ended up losing their money and her mother had to sell the farm and Barbara, her mother, sister and had to move to town.  Her mother bought a nice home with the proceeds of the farm sale and she was able to continue with high school and that is where she graduated from high school then attended business college and started her first job at Soldier’s and Sailor’s Home.  The family moved to New Mexico for a time due to her sister’s health, but her sister died at the age of 21, which was about 1941.  WWII began and Barbara and her mother moved to California where Barbara worked as a secretary for an aircraft plant in Glendale.  After the war ended there were not many contracts available for aircraft parts and many plants went out of business so when that job ended, she went to work at a civil service job.   She worked for Public Works in the Street Engineering Department in Glendale.  Her first job there was a secretarial position however, she retired as the Permits Manager 31 years later and she was not even 60 but she was ready to stop working.  

Barbara moved to Leisure World in 1992 and has enjoyed her life here for 27 years.  She moved here by herself, never married and never had children.  At Leisure World she joined clubs and now had plenty of time to travel so she started to take cruises.  She loved driving so she took many trips in the USA driving but also some bus, train and plane trips.  The only 2 states in the USA she has not visited are Minnesota and North Dakota and she has visited the islands and at least 17 – 18 European countries.  The most amazing things she has seen in her life have come from her travels; experiencing things she read about in school and heard of throughout her life; seeing the beauty in the world and so many nice people.  Her daily routine consists of no work, belonging to clubs and her church.  In her early years she taught Sunday school for 27 years and still attends church services as often as she can.  She belongs and supports the Golden Age Foundation and was a working member of the foundation in earlier years.  

Barbara had a wonderful celebration for her 100th Birthday and she shared her book of memories of her 100th Birthday Party held in July 2018.  Her church and friends helped her plan and arrange it and there were over 80 in attendance.  The food was a catered buffet which included lots of her favorite foods – fried chicken, potato salad, deviled eggs and many other delicious dishes including a beautiful cake.

The only struggle she recalls during her life was when the banks failed but she is grateful it all turned out well.  During the years of her life she thinks being positive, seeing good in people and belonging to clubs and church have led to her happy life with lots of friends.  Barbara doesn’t regret anything, it is done, and she believes you must just keep on going.  The person that most influenced Barbara was her mother: “she always had faith in me, and she trusted me”.  She is grateful for her many friends and greatly appreciates her dear friend Nancy Pittman.  She says “I am fortunate to have her in my life.  She helps me with many things I am unable to handle she is a very caring person”.   Barbara drove an automobile until she was 94 and still drives a scooter around Leisure World to go to the Health Care Center, the Lutheran Church and an occasional meeting.  

Barbara wanted to add:  “if you are searching for direction in your life, find a church you like and are comfortable in and leave it in God’s hands.  Get involved in doing things for others, someone else, not just for yourself.  Live for today, don’t worry about yesterday or tomorrow.  Just do your best for today”.

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Clifford Pederson

Clifford Pederson is a 101 year old World War II veteran who has lived in Mutual 2 for 30 years.  He grew up in Massachusetts, married and raised a family there.   After his first wife died at 50, he moved to California to be close to his two daughters.  Clifford met his second wife, Georgia, here in Leisure World and they were married for 20 years.  He is the father of four children and has nine great grandchildren and one great great grandchild.  His advice to them is to get advanced education and he is concerned about enough jobs for their futures.

Childhood memories include listening to a friend’s radio (which was a new invention).  They listened to the Yankees playing in the World Series as Babe Ruth hit a home run.  He also listened as Charles Lindbergh landed his plane near Paris after flying solo across the Atlantic in 1927.  When he was six years old and out playing ball, he doubled up with pain.  The Dr. came over, took him to the hospital, parked the car and then came in and performed an appendectomy.  However his appendix had ruptured and he spent a month in the hospital.

Clifford has never backed away from hard work.  As a ten year old, Clifford worked on a farm after school and in the summer.  He worked nine hours a day, six days a week at $1.25 an hour.  He made $7.50 a week, gave $5.00 to his mother and had $2.00 for himself. When the farm ran out of money, Clifford as a high-school student took a train into Boston and worked as an office boy at an insurance agency.  

Playing hockey in high-school was Clifford’s dream as a teenager,  Saving his money, he bought the most expensive skates and excelled on the team.  However, the skates were stolen ending his skating career.

 WWII started and Clifford wanted to be a pilot, but he is color blind and couldn’t pass the test even though he took it five times.  He joined the army and served in the Mediterranean.  He remembers crossing the Atlantic from New York to Ireland in the Queen Mary.  A little known fact was that the ship hit a mine sweeper on their voyage and cut the mine sweeper in half.  They didn’t want the Germans to know and it was said to be the best kept secret of the war.  A few years ago, Clifford was part of the Honor Flight Society which went to Washington D.C. for a weekend to see the WWII Memorial and others.  A  highlight of his trip was meeting Senator Bob Dole.  He was also very impressed with Fort Mc Henry.

After the war, Clifford attended Boston Collage, but had to finish up his Bachelor’s degree at night since he and his wife had their first child.  He started as a clerk at a food company and they hired him later as a purchasing agent because of his college education.

Throughout his life, Clifford was athletic doing both skiing and jogging.  He often ran twelve 10K races a year.  He still rides an exercise bike to stay fit.  He values his mental clarity and does puzzles and word games daily.  He is attempting to learn the keyboard, but gets impatient because he says both hands won’t always work together.   He uses the computer for writing documents and sending e-mails.   He also volunteers at the “Care Center” at the Lutheran church and has received a “Presidential Award” for his volunteer service.

Although macular degeneration Has taken some of his eyesight, Clifford describes himself as content and happy.   He has technology that helps with his vision as well as a machine that reads books to him. He fixes his own meals and is conscious of eating healthy.   He is anticipating a cruise to Alaska later this year.

Reflecting back on his life, Clifford wishes he had shown his mother more appreciation.  “Women in those days were the real workers”.  His mother washed clothes by hand, baked bread and worked long hours each day raising five children.  His father died at 72. but his mother lived to be 84.  His five siblings all lived well into their 80’s.  He never met his grandparents who lived in Canada and Denmark.  

Clifford gives many thanks to his “three angels” – his sweet daughter, Jo, his very special friend,  Amy and his special “best” friend, Sandy.  He says they have brought great comfort and joy into his life.  He is deeply appreciative of the assistance they have given him the last twelve years

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Observations by Mary Apte

This month preceding the GAF Centenarian Luncheon several centenarians have told parts of their life stories before video cameras. It has been my privilege to conduct some of these interviews to help comprehend how such long lives have developed.

To a person they have been responsive, alert, contented and eager to share.

All born 1917-1919 have one strong memory, that is surviving a tough time during the “Great Depression “. Each had  accounts of families, work, and of love and loss. One greeted me with his wife of 78 years in their Leisure World unit. Only one, Victor Kambe, was born a Californian. As a first generation American, he was also the only one to face a challenge of his loyalty to our country twice. First when his family was sent to internment camp at outset of WWII and again, when released from the camp, he was dismissed from a civil service job he had acquired to help the nation fight the war. Three spent parts of early years in Oklahoma. Several were Methodists. All had educations above the average of cohorts.

I enjoyed these conversations. All are now somewhat frail but use humor and strong voices to recount experiences. A lady who rode horseback for recreation. Another wondered if trips to Las Vegas could be considered an activity. Another had a lifelong focus on helping indigenous on our reservations and led to having one she calls her son. It is impressive to listen to what they have to tell of lives 10 x 10 years long.

The value of Life Story writing was impressed on me first here in Leisure World. I took a course with Thelma Kramar. She advertised in LW News to teach use of a computer in exchange for helping with transcription of student stories. It was an interesting and enriching experience.

Thelma recruited two of the class to become “public access producers” attending classes offerred by Seal Beach Community TV, Robin Forte-Linke. Use of Video to record life stories was the aim. It is very rewarding so I have continued an interest in this activity for many years as a member of LW Video Producers Club.