Masonic Village celebrates milestone birthdays

Christine Harkinson/The Sun
Masonic Village at Burlington residents Nellie Barrett (left to right), Martin Gutchigan, Muriel Holmes, Elizabeth Burke and Vera Jensen at the celebration. They believe the secret to long life is to avoid isolation, laugh a lot and keep moving.

Masonic Village at Burlington celebrated four of its resident centenarians with a luncheon and lots of balloons on April 24.

Elizabeth Burke (101), Nellie Barrett (101), Martin Gutchigan (102) and Muriel Holmes (103) were also joined by resident Vera Jensen, who will turn 100 later this year.

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“We pride ourselves in providing each of our residents the opportunity to live a quality life here with many activities, attention to keeping them healthy and simply treating them with respect and care like they are a member of our own family,” said Masonic Village Executive Director Anda Durso.

According to the centenarians, the secret to long life is to avoid isolation, laugh a lot and keep moving.

“We should respect our elders, we should take care of and cherish our elders (and) take in their advice,” noted Burlington City Mayor Barry Conoway. “They’re (Masonic) doing a fantastic job with them, and they (centenarians) have the secret to long life.”

“It’s amazing, but they all look beautiful,” he added. “They look healthy, and we all should want to get a part of their life and see what the secret is, too, so we can get to be 100.”

April 24 was also Holmes’ birthday. She prides herself on life-long good health and is thankful her mother took care of herself so she could give birth to a healthy baby, not always common in 1921 before medical advances. Holmes’ grandmother taught her how to cook, so she also thinks that home-cooked meals are the key to good health.

“She was such a good cook,” Holmes recalled of her grandmother, “and then she taught my mother, and my mother taught me.”

Older adults who live in senior housing communities live longer, receive more home-health services and benefit from greater rehabilitative and preventive care in the two years following move in than those who do not, according to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) and research conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago.

Barrett, Gutchigan and Burke also know a thing or two about the secret to longevity, and they were happy to share the day with their loved ones.

“I had a great life; I don’t like vegetables and I like ice cream,” Barrett acknowledged. “I’m an avid reader. It’s like a drug – when I finish a book, I have to go to another one.

“Yogurt,” she added, “I was born and raised on yogurt.”

“I was born and raised on a farm,” Burke said. “ … We milked cows or worked in the fields.”

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