BORN: August 26, 1916, in Toronto, Canada
TODAY: She and husband Morrie, who is 103, have been married for 78 years. "We've outlived everybody," Betty says. "And it's rare, I recognize that. We're very lucky. The best I can wish you is our luck."
Berta Maria Frieda Preiss
BORN: May 9, 1912, in Mönchberg, Germany
TODAY: Berta ran a small grocery with her husband, Karl, until the late 1970s and continued to get around on a bicycle and cook for her family until just a few years ago. Her advice for a long life: Don't overdo anything,
Edward J. Palkot
BORN: August 20, 1913, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
TODAY: A former human resources director, Edward belongs to a golf club and is still known to show up at a local dance hall with his partner, Alice, who is 89. (His wife, Anne, died in 1998.) As he writes in the book's foreword, "The first hundred years are the hardest. After that, you just roll along."
BORN: September 21, 1914, in Fairfield, Montana
TODAY: "I'm praying that I will be ready for whatever He has planned for me," says Evelyn, who doesn't doubt that God is keeping her around for a reason. To this day, she teaches weekly Bible classes, plays the piano and enjoys a good game of dominos.
Gerardus Jacobus Johannes Keizen
BORN: August 10, 1915, in Den Haag, Netherlands
TODAY: A former traffic manager for the Dutch airline KLM, he was married for 66 years until his wife, Gertruida, died in 2011. Gerardus recommends a "routine life of moderation. Go to bed early, don't smoke, don't drink—although you can always make an exception now and then for a whiskey."
BORN: September 10, 1914, in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, Japan
TODAY: No complaints here. As Kiyo tells it, she had an idyllic childhood and a marriage "full of happiness and without any arguments." An excellent cook, she attributes her culinary gift to her husband's "wonderful sense of taste and his weakness for good food."
María Teresa Bolivar vda de Lercari
BORN: July 4, 1913, in Lima, Peru
TODAY: She loves ravioli and her daily glass of Italian red wine. Maria was married for 39 years and even now, 35 years after his death, says she misses her husband every day.
María Luisa Medina
BORN: April 8,1913, in Loja, Ecuador
TODAY: Having lost the use of her legs, Maria spends much of her time at home, spinning yarn out of sheep's wool. She thrives on the fresh air and healthful food that grows in her backyard in Vilcabamba, which means "sacred valley."
BORN: February 12, 1915, in Muskogee, Oklahoma
TODAY: Her family's home was destroyed by the Ku Klux Klan during the 1921 Tulsa riots, when Olivia was just 6 years old. She went on to become the first African-American to join the U.S. Coast Guard Women's Reserve, in 1945, and then earned a Ph.D. in psychology. Asked by USA Today for the secret to her longevity, Dr. Hooker noted that she didn't smoke or drink. She also believes in getting "the right amount of sleep to keep your mind positive."
BORN: March 2,1915, on Flatey Island, Iceland
TODAY: Sigurgeir is surprised to have lived so long, given how hard he worked as a bricklayer. He often ate dried fish on construction sites. "Maybe that's why I'm still alive," he says. "Or because the heavy lifting and carrying has kept me fit!"
All photos by Karsten Thormaehlen, from "Aging Gracefully: Portraits of People Over 100," Chronicle Books (March 7, 2017)
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