10 Amazing Centenarians and Why They Inspire Us to Reach for 100+

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 09 August 2012

Living to 100 may be more common than it was 100 years ago, but that doesn’t make it any less amazing.

Just how common is reaching 100 and beyond? The Census Bureau says the U.S. is home to the largest number of centenarians in the world: a current total of 72,000. This jaw-dropping number, which nearly doubled in the last 20 years, is set to double, triple, or even increase seven-fold, by 2020.

From the continental United States, to the most remote island nations and everywhere in between, centenarians are making a mark: “The 100+ Club,” a new Australian documentary that you’ll hear more about later, suggests that centenarians are among the fastest growing demographic in the world.

Find out the secrets of longevity from these 10 awe-inspiring centenarians from around the world (we’re pretty sure that once you “meet” them, you’ll probably want an invitation to their upcoming birthday celebrations):

1. Centenarian Caregiver: Rosaria Schielzeth

Amazing in more ways than her triple digit age, Rosario Schielzeth, 104, is caring for her 87-year-old daughter who suffers from dementia. According to the Huffington Post article chronicling Schielzeth, this devoted mother is always by her daughter’s side; family members says she has “the patience of a saint.” (Photo courtesy of SNN6.com)

2. Centenarian Centerfold: Nora Hardwick

This BBC News article tells all about a 106-year-old who bared it all (all but a pink tulle scarf, that is) for a charity calendar. Nora Hardwick, who posed as “Miss November ” when she was 102, was born in 1905 and believes “her philanthropic lifestyle has proved life-preserving.” (Photo courtesy of Neville Williams, DailyMirror.com)

3. Centenarian Cancer Survivor & Committed Volunteer: Dorrie Aber Noyek

This 105-year-old was recently honored for her 38 years of outstanding service at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Florida. Volunteer service is Dorrie’s secret to successful longevity, says this local news article detailing her awesome achievement. (Photo courtesy of NBCMiami.com)

4. Card-Carrying Centenarian Club Members: “The 100+ Club” Cast

There are so many gems within this documentary’s short trailer, but two of the centenarians featured give their answers to the relentless question asked of centenarians far and wide: what’s the secret to a long life?

Says one centenarian: “Work hard and don’t complain about it!”

Says another: “Just keep breathing. Just keep breathing.”

See, hear from, and be amazed by all the 100+ers in the trailer, including an author, performer, and world champion athlete and record-holder, Ruth Frith:

5. Classy Centenarian & Author: Ethel Mathias

In 2011, Ethel celebrated her 106th birthday with 40 close family members and friends, according to this Midwest-Stories.com post. This lovely lady, who has seen 19 presidents serve our country, published a book, “The Life of a Centenarian,” in 2009. (Photo courtesy of Mid-westStories.com)

6. Centenarian “Car Shuffler:” Joe Binder

For several decades, Joe Binder has held the position of valet for a Bronx, NY diner — and he’s loved every minute of the job. This New York Post piece tells us more about the man who loves dancing with his 48-year-old girlfriend and has no plans of retiring any time soon.

7. Centenarian Commuter: Tom Spowart

Tom Spowart, 103, lives in Ipswich, Australia, and rides his local public transit so regularly that he just scored a pass for free rides (which the transit line plans to reload indefinitely). He is known for starting sing-a-longs on the bus and engaging in pleasant conversation with drivers and passengers alike.

Watch Tom in action here.

8. Centenarian Cover Girl: “Ruth”

Ari Seth Cohen, an NYC-based blogger and photographer, has a killer job: wandering the streets of the city in search of the best-dressed men and women… that is, men and women in their 80s, 90s and beyond. In an interview with the lovely Ruth, who is 100, the elegant city dweller shares her best beauty secrets with readers. Get her tips, including this classic, “Don’t look at the calendar, just keep celebrating everyday,” here.

9. Centenarian Sisters & Record Holders: Dorothy Richards and Marjorie Ruddle

These sweet sisters made the Guinness Book of World Records this June for being the oldest siblings in the world. Dorothy Richards is 108; Marjorie Ruddle is 105. Read more about the good genes that run in their family in this BBC News post.

10. Centenarian Marathoner: Fauja Singh

Last fall, Fauja Singh ran a marathon and hoped the feat would land him the distinction of being the world’s oldest Toronto marathoner. He was 100 then, and had recently “demolished the records for 100-year-old men in all eight sprinting distances.” The Telegraph post touting his accomplishment says that Singh, who was born in India in 1911, starting running competitively at age 89 “after losing his wife and son.”

Can’t get enough? Check out these “Portraits of Centenarians” at Time.com.

Did you like this post? Check out other feature articles about seniors, boomers, senior housing & senior care here.


There are 4 Comments about this post

  1. Great post. All of their stories are truly amazing! #centenariansrock


    on 17 August 2012 / 10:37 AM

  2. Thanks, Peter! I agree; truly amazing people and stories. Appreciate the comment on the post!


    on 20 August 2012 / 12:03 PM

  3. Great post! I work at the Sheridan Elder Research Centre in Oakville, Ontario and in September we are having the Canadian premiere exhibition of Jerry Friedman’s photographs of supercentenarians from around the world!

    Have you heard of his work? http://www.earthselders.org pretty inspiring stuff!



    on 27 August 2012 / 9:07 AM

  4. Thanks, Monika! I haven’t heard of his work, but it sounds amazing, as does the exhibition. Wow, I would love to see something like that. Maybe I should plan a trip to Ontario? Thanks for your comment and for stopping by the blog!


    on 27 August 2012 / 9:14 AM


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