The Secret to 100 Years – And More

by Lisa Shirley, Founders Hall Concierge
From The Villager Newsletter (June 2024)

If someone told me in elementary school that I would one day live with four of my classmates, at the same retirement community, I might have believed them. However, if someone told me we would be in our 100s, I would have laughed!

At Covenant Village, living longer, better
— well past 100 years — is an accessible possibility.

In fact, our community includes eight residents who are 100 years old or older. With all the studies about Blue Zones and how people living in community can live longer, and better, I wondered if our Covenant Village community might be a Blue Zone too. So, I was thrilled to ask our resident centenarians about the secret sauce to their vibrant longevity, what they are still learning, and what brings them joy.

Senator Marshall Rauch was born in New York City over 100 years ago. He says his secret to longevity comes from his family genes. His father lived to be 99 and his great-grandfather lived to be 104. Senator Rauch is planning to break some family records. He is still learning to be more tolerant of people younger than him, and when I asked what brings him joy, he said his children and love.

When I asked Mrs. Judy Harrison about the secret to living longer better, she said, “I don’t have a secret, I don’t think it is anything I did.” Still quite independent, she enjoys meeting the staff and learning the names of the new people she meets. Her greatest joy is her son and “feeling good and being able to do what I can.”

Mrs. Alice Wood has called Covenant Villager her home for two decades. She was a schoolteacher for over 30 years and taught in Florida and North Carolina. Both of her parents passed in their 30s. Mrs. Wood says she has no idea how she has made it beyond 100 years. Friends of hers suggest it might be her positive attitude that has strengthened her resilience to any obstacle that life has thrown her way. Mrs. Wood stays connected to her friends and family and enjoys eating out with them when she can. She celebrated her 100th birthday at The Lodge in Belmont, NC, where she enjoys BBQ. She said people bring her joy. “Her kind of people,” that is. “We all have our people who make us feel loved and appreciated, whether it is a friend or family member. The older you get the more you know who your people are.”

Aging is not how many years have passed, but how much life you have embraced - Sophia LorenMrs. Wilma Rhyne, a newer member of the centenarian club, lives at Covenant Village alongside three who went to elementary school with her. By the end of 2024, all four will be 100 or older! You don’t find many people like Mrs. Rhyne. She can count on one hand how many times she has moved in her life. She was born and raised in Gastonia, NC, and has never lived outside the city limits! She credits staying busy and not slowing down as her secret sauce. She still reads a lot and keeps up with her friends and family, who bring her joy. She is always in the craft room working on something cute, and her room is filled with creative things she has made and collected over the years, including her thimble collection. She said her mother collected them too. Mrs. Rhyne has written a note about each thimble describing who gave it to her and where it came from.

Dr. Bill Woody is from Bessemer City, NC. He will celebrate his 103rd birthday this month (June). Helping others keeps him active, and he doesn’t plan to slow down. Dr. Woody said he isn’t sure how he got to be his age, but he thinks it might have something to do with his family’s genes. His mother lived to be 98 years old. Dr. Woody says he always wanted to play a musical instrument. So, when he put down his golf clubs, he took a seat in front of the piano keys and taught himself to play at 100 years old! He said, “Right now, I’m in the process of learning to read music.” He told me it is not easy, but he likes the challenge. He said, “I’m determined to get through this part.” Once he is finished learning the basics, he wants to try to play one of his favorites, Glenn Miller’s Moonlight Serenade, and I plan on being in the audience when he does! Helping people brings Dr. Woody joy. Even at 88 years old, he started helping people with a program called SHIIP which stands for: Senior Health Insurance Information Program. His wife said Dr. Woody is the happiest when he is with his children, two of which are Covenant Village residents, along with Dr. Woody’s brother. From helping his father on the railroad in 1938 to serving our country in WWII, to serving as a community dentist, Dr. Woody has proven his love for helping others again and again. Whether helping a friend navigate the ins and outs of insurance or learning a
new scale on the piano, Dr. Woody always has a
smile on his face.

Mrs. Alice Lewis came to Covenant Village from Fairbanks, NC, which is closer to the coast. She believes her secret sauce to longevity is clean living.
She tries to live a healthy lifestyle. She also tries to improve her relationships with others. She said,
“Having good happy relationships with people you work with or know personally, is very important.” Mrs. Lewis was a Master Gardener and her plants and flowers, along with her grandchildren, have brought her joy over the years.

Mrs. Connie Austin’s baked goods are legendary. She credits giving her life to God and her church for the many fulfilling years she has enjoyed. Mrs. Austin is a member of the First Methodist Church of Gastonia. She told me about a time, not long ago, when she gave up her car and stopped driving due to some health concerns. That did not stop her from getting where she needed to go. She has learned how to take the bus with the Activities staff to go shopping, and she is still baking and delivering bread to her friends and family. Mrs. Austin was an ombudsman for 20 years, helping to protect the elderly and their rights in places like Covenant Village, and throughout Gaston County. She told me her family and “sitting in the sanctuary at her church” bring her joy.

Our oldest centenarian is Mrs. Margaret Owen. When I asked her about the secret to her vitality, she said, “I must have a Guardian Angel.” At 103 years old, Mrs. Owen reads her daily newspaper and watches the news on television to keep up with all that is new and changing in the world around her. She also says her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, add great joy to her life. We counted them, and she has 18 all together!! I asked Mrs. Owen if she had any questions for me, and she asked, “Why are you doing this?” I told her that the Village wants to celebrate
what she and others have done to live rich, long lives. Their wisdom may help us all.

It isn’t every day you get to sit and talk to a 103-year-old. Well, Covenant Village may be the exception, because we have two more residents who will welcome 100 this year! That will make 10 centenarians! Covenant Village truly is the place Where Life Is Filled With Promise as residents live better longer … together.

Founders Hall includes residences for people who want to live independently with the help of a little assistance. To learn more about our Founders Hall residences, contact our Marketing Team.

Want to learn more about Covenant Village?
Click the button to get in contact with us for more information.