DeKALB – As she thought about Lucille Larson’s life, Sharon Fisher said the secret to longevity seems to be not paying attention to age.
With a party hat on her head and a balloon tied to her wheelchair, Larson – a Bethany Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center resident – celebrated her 100th birthday Tuesday with cupcakes and music during lunch.
Fisher, Bethany’s activities director, said Larson is now the oldest resident. Another resident will turn 100 in July.
“I don’t feel any different than I did 50 years ago,” Larson said.
During lunch Tuesday, fellow residents sang “Happy Birthday” to Larson, who has lived at Bethany since 2008.
“We’re very close to her,” Fisher said. “We are her second family.”
Larson said she never thought she’d live to see 100, but she’s remained active as she’s aged. Her daughter, Barb Voga, said she’s a positive, social person.
“She’s always had a good attitude about life,” Voga said. “Nothing is ever so bad that it couldn’t be worse. She always finds the good things in whatever.”
Larson continues to exercise, takes part in a cooking club and loves bowling, bingo and old movies, Fisher said.
When family and friends arrived for a birthday party Saturday, Larson was engaged in a water gun fight.
“She’s a busy lady,” Fisher said. “Never a dull moment with Lucy.”
Larson said she’s had a good life and has a nice family. She was born north of Shabbona and has lived in DeKalb County her entire life.
Larson and her husband, John – who is now deceased – also have two sons, David and Richard, seven grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
Voga said Larson has been to all 50 states: 49 with John and Alaska with a friend. She also played on a community softball team that won a state championship in 1937.
Longevity runs in Larson’s family. Voga said several family members have lived to be 100 or older.
Larson said she is fortunate that she always lived a healthy life. She said she doesn’t know what the secret to old age is, but said it’s “something that must be inside of me.”
“It came kind of slow,” she deadpanned about reaching 100.
When a staff member asked her to smile for a photo, Larson asked if she should stick out her tongue.
Fisher said Larson was able to choose the afternoon’s activity for her birthday, and she picked Furry Friends traveling petting zoo, which brings animals to Bethany that residents can hold and touch.
Larson said it was exciting to have such a party thrown for her birthday.
“I never once thought I’d live to be 100,” she said with a laugh. “Had lots of fun doing it.”