Arlington County honored a group of local centenarians during a special ceremony earlier today.
County staff members presented nearly a dozen long-living locals (including Eugene Kahn, who was the subject of an ARLnow profile last month) with a proclamation from County Board member Libby Garvey and a letter from Del. Patrick Hope at the Arlington Employment Center.
All of those honored have lived in the Arlington area for decades. Many took the opportunity today to talk about the past.
Dowdell Tillman, who has resided in Arlington since 1947, talked about his days working at the Reagan National Airport — then just National Airport — as part of the utility crew. Tillman built his current home in 1954 and still lives there to this day.
Others talked about how they’ve played an important role in the community. Martha Ann Miller was a math teacher at Stratford Junior High School when it became the first public secondary school in Virginia to desegregate its classes by accepting four African-American students in 1959. Ms. Miller said she volunteered to have the students in her math class.
While their spirits haven’t changed, much has changed throughout the United States since the centenarians were born.
In 1916, a stamp was $.02, a loaf of bread was $.07, the average price of a U.S. house was $5,000 and the average price of a car was $400, according to a presentation given during the event.
Of course, some of those in attendance shared their “secrets” for living so long. Here is some of what they said:
- Martha Ann Miller: “B supervitamins”
- Eugene Kahn: “Incredible good luck”
- Raymond Renola: “Luck, exercise and refusing to get old”
- Allan Matthews: “One third genetics, one third luck, and one third diet and exercise”
- Hasso von Bredow: “Staying active and port wine”
- Dowdell Tillman: “Patience, and never worrying too much, especially about things you can’t control”
- Vera Punke: “I don’t know what it’s like to get old. I’ll tell you when I get there. I tell people there’s one thing I don’t have to worry about, and that’s dying young.”
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