Community thanks centenarians, wish continued long life

By Liz Kirchner

Woodfin – The dining room of Harmony at Reynolds Mountain senior community in Woodfin was full of family, friends and residents last Wednesday singing Frank Sinatra’s “Young at Heart” to celebrate the birthdays of five residents who are turning 100 years old or older this year.

Louis Baker, a Navy veteran, who is turning one hundred and five, is the elder of the group.

The afternoon party thanked all five with h’ors d’oeuvres and blue cookie cupcakes in honor of Baker, who is known as “The Cookie Monster.”

Local television station, WLOS, interviewed the five: Velna Evans who has traveled all over the world; Vesta Hardy, who has lived all her life in Asheville where she founded a church and attributes her long life to never drinking or smoking. Navy veteran, Leon Rocamora, turning 100 this year, was applauded and thanked for his service. Enis D’Angelo, an Army nurse from New York who, when asked to what she owed her long life said she had no idea and laughed.

Baker, in a red baseball hat and a wheelchair festooned with blue and white balloons, smiled as the crowd sang the line: “If you should survive to one hundred and five…”. To applause, Baker tipped his hat.

“I hope I look like that at 105,” said Enrichment Director Bradshaw Hall, who led the song in a warm baritone, “Heck, I hope I look like that at 50!”

In the swirl of well-wishers, Executive Director Tonia Owens said, “Keeping busy and engaged keeps us young and healthy.”

The center’s Public Outreach Representative, Taylor Cox, attributed longevity to social interaction.

“This is a big celebration for all of these folks. It’s not all the time you turn 105!” she said.

Of the 7.5 billion people on the planet, there are a few hundred thousand people who are 100 years old and older, according to the United Nations Office for National Statistics. More women than men reach that milestone.

The office estimated that one-third of the babies born in 2013, the UK, representative of developed nations, will live to be 100.

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