A happy marriage and volunteering are key ingredients to a long life, according to Syliva Kelly, 103 and Goldie Knowles, 101.
Kelly and Knowles were among the six centenarians celebrating being over 100 years old at Trillium West Shore Village in Colwood on Nov 14.
They were joined by Agnes Richardson and Elise Saunders, along with Erna Schoening. Joseph Bryant (wasn’t able to be at the event). The event was hosted by Debra Prior, Trillium West Shore Village executive director and Doug Kobayashi, the mayor of Colwood.
The lives of these six centenarians, born in the 1920s, have seen big changes in the world, from the invention of the radio to the Second World War, said Prior.
“Cheers to our incredible six centenarians who have reached this remarkable milestone that deserves to be honoured and cherished,” she said.
The six people celebrating have led incredibly diverse lives. Richardson served in the Navy during the Second World War, while Kelly dedicated much of her life to working at the Empress Hotel and volunteering for various organizations.
On the other hand, Saunders was a housewife and lived on a farm now buried under the overpass at Uptown Shopping Centre.
Saunders grew up in Victoria with three sisters, aged 96, 99, and 100. She was a housewife for most of her life.
Knowles said she was grateful for living such a long life and married her childhood sweetheart when she was very young.
“We met when we were children but went our separate ways and reconnected as teenagers. We were very happy,” she said
“We had a happy life, married 71 years,” she said.
Knowles has outlived one of her children and said that she had seen a lot of her friends die.
“I’m in the mind that I’m not outliving my niece,” Knowles said.
Kelly, born in Ontario before moving to Victoria, said that she often would get remarks about how young she looks and is sometimes mistaken for someone who is only 80.
“The reason everybody thinks this is maybe because I was very active. I played golf. I played bowling. I played tennis. And I was very active in volunteering,” Kelly said.
Kelly said she never liked sitting down for long periods and would volunteer, whether or not it was work or some organization around Victoria. She was always willing to help others.
One of the great stories from Kelly’s life comes from her time with the Empress Hotel, where one of the young men who worked with her gave her a card to celebrate her 100th birthday.
“He became a lawyer. His name was Victor Simeone, and I showed everybody that card because I treasure that he never forgot me after 60 years,” she said.
Richardson grew up in Victoria and spent most of her life here but joined the Canadian Navy in the Second World War and spent time on the West Coast as the Canadian Navy and CAP Merchant Navy took the perilous journey across the Atlantic Ocean.
Richardson was incredibly proud of her time in the Navy and was always amazed that the Canadian Navy was the world’s third largest.
She married after the war and travelled with her husband, with New Zealand being one of the highlights of her numerous overseas vacations.
“We did it all on our own. We drove all around, and I can pick out the accent and know the difference between Australian or British,” Richardson said.
Kobayashi gave some remarks just before the band started to play and said that the five women in the room equalled 500 years of collective wisdom and knowledge.
“A tapestry woven with the breadth of experiences, laughter, tears and challenges,” he said.