In June 2022, Bette Sargent will celebrate 100 years of life. She credits an inquiring mind as one reason for her longevity. “Curiosity. I’m always wondering what’s going to happen next.”
Born Bette Palmateer, she grew up in Arizona, the first of three daughters. Both of her grandparents owned farms that she visited often. Bette remembers receiving 10 cents for every hidden turkey nest she could find on the property. She attended Litchfield Park schools and was salutatorian of her high school class. After high school, Bette married her first husband, James, and moved to San Diego while he served in the Navy. Unfortunately, James was killed during World War II, so Bette returned to Arizona – a young widow with a 10 month old son.
Eighteen months later, Bette’s mother-in-law convinced her to go to a dance on a blind date. She loved to dance so she agreed, and six weeks later she married her blind date, Buzz. Who would have imagined that their marriage would last for 72 years? The new family moved to California and settled in Whittier. Buzz went to work at Goodyear Tire and Rubber. Bette stayed home for 13 years and later went to work for Alpha Beta Grocery. Bette and Buzz welcomed two more children; a girl and another boy. All three children were schooled in Whitter and all were good kids. One child went to Long Beach State University, one went to San Diego State University and one went to beauty school.
Once the kids were older and on their own, Bette and Buzz were ready for fun. They built their retirement home in Canyon Lake and purchased a motorhome, a boat, and a golf cart – all “big boy toys.” They toured the United States in their motorhome a few times, the longest single trip lasting three and a half months.
When they returned home after one of the trips, they found that nine close friends and family members had passed. Buzz decreed, “We’re moving back to town. Leisure World, here we come.” Bette reluctantly followed, but was not enthusiastic to live with “those old folks,” but she quickly changed her mind. Within three weeks of moving to
Leisure World, Bette and Buzz were bowling, playing pool, playing golf, dancing in a dance group, and actively participating in a travel club. Bette has been a “happy camper” ever since. She has lived in Leisure World for 34 years.
As Bette approaches the next century, she remains optimistic and in good spirits. Positivity has served her well these past 100 years. “I’ve had a wonderful life. I have a nice home. I have enough money. What else can I ask for?”