- Your Voice
(BPT) - One hundred years ago, the average American’s life expectancy was between 50 and 60 years, and so the estimated 53,000 centenarians in the United States today have lived much longer than most of their contemporaries. Perhaps that is why a new survey shows that these 100-year-olds feel “blessed” (36 percent), “happy” (31 percent) and “surprised” (12 percent) to have lived so long. Not one reports feeling sad or burdened; only 3 percent say they feel lonely.
As Americans we’ve become so compartmentalized and categorized by marketing, media and myth that we barely know what to think anymore.
When workers at Fairwinds Desert Point went to pick up Will Clark's birthday cake, people in the bakery asked what the "106" meant.
Randy Metcalf/The Explorer, 106-year-old Will Clark dances with Elizabeth Sims, the activities coordinator at Fairwinds Desert Point, last month. Clark was born Aug. 17, 1904, exactly nine months after the Wright Brothers took their famous flight.
Randy Metcalf/The Explorer, Will Clark, 106, is greeted by resident Norma Banzhaf, 81, during his birthday celebration last month.
Randy Metcalf/The Explorer, Golder Ranch firefighter Bill Howe walks into Fairwinds Desert Point during Will Clark's 106th birthday party. The fire department made an appearance at the celebration to jokingly say it would be a fire code violation to light that many candles, and to give Clark a ride in a fire truck.
Evelyn Wilson Betts turned 100 years of age on Jan. 29. She shares a birthday with multi-media superstar Oprah Winfrey, who is "not near 100, that's for sure," Evelyn said.
E. James Mulligan, M.D., doesn't care too much for the limelight.
Randy Metcalf/The Explorer, Still able to shoot under his age, James Mulligan drives the ball straight down the fairway. He said the only thing that ails him these days is a slight knee ache from a high school football injury.
Randy Metcalf/The Explorer, James Mulligan spends three to four hours a day three times a week in his bedroom-turned-studio. The Oro Valley resident, born in 1909, will be celebrating his 100th birthday on August 11.
Randy Metcalf/The Explorer, With a life working in head and neck surgery, dedicating his time to teaching others, James Mulligan now spends his time on the El Conquistador Golf Course or painting in his home.
Randy Metcalf/The Explorer, Oro Valley resident E. James Mulligan, M.D., takes a few warm-up swings on the driving range at the El Conquistador. On August 11, Mulligan will turn 100, and for achieving that milestone, he will be recognized with a proclamation by the Town of Oro Valley.
Irene Tompkins remembers when Oro Valley and greater Tucson were nothing but "empty spaces."
Hayley Roylance/Special to The Explorer, Irene Tompkins, 105, poses for a picture in her favorite chair at assisted living home La Casa de Stella, where she has lived since December 2008.
If you are looking for a Fountain of Youth, forget pills and diet supplements. Adventurer Dan Buettner has visited four spots on the globe where people live into their 90s and 100s and outlines how they add years of good life in his new book, “The Blue Zones.”