centenarian, 9/25/12

Maria Machado, 101, of Dixon, holds the hand of Dianna Gonzalez, of the Area Agency on Aging, during a celebration of Solano County centenarians Tuesday at the Solano County Government Center. (Brad Zweerink/Daily Republic)

Solano County

Solano honors oldest residents

By From page A1 | September 26, 2012

FAIRFIELD — Cosie Hearon, 101, is searching for Mr. Right. Earl Headings, 100, wouldn’t share the secret to a long life.

“If I did it would scare you half to death,” he said.

While Ricardo Montalvan of Vallejo wasn’t sure he’d make it to the annul centenarian celebration at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, he did. Then, he held hands with a younger woman, Dixon’s Maria Machado. He’s 104, she’s 101.

About a dozen of Solano County’s oldest residents attended. Rochelle Sherlock, who heads up the county’s Senior Coalition, found more than 25 Solano County residents who have hit or passed the century mark. However, not all wanted to or were able to be part of the festivities, she said.

At 105, Dr. Seymour Marcuse was the oldest. The retired Vallejo optometrist showed quick wit when asked how he was. “I’m alive,” he replied.

His parents were the third group of people to get married after the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. Seymour arrived in February 1907, “making him an aftershock,” Steven Marcuse, Seymour Marcuse’s son, said in jest.

Benicia resident Betty Simpson, 102, was the oldest woman. She traveled the world by ship in 1936 and listed India as the most exotic place she visited.

Estimates say there are about 72,000 centenarians in the United States and about a half-million worldwide. For the past five years, the Board of Supervisors, many of whom say it’s their favorite event as county representatives, has held the annual Centenarian Celebration. The idea was suggested by Supervisor John Vasquez when one of his former teachers reached the century mark.

A handful of dignitaries congratulated the six men and six  women who attended Tuesday’s festivities.

“Someday I hope to be sitting in your place as a centenarian,” said Barnaby Butterfield, a field representative for state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis.

“You make our hearts warmer and our lives richer,” Sherlock said.

A slide show featured pictures and a short script on the centenarians who were able to attend. The crowded chamber echoed with laughter as people read that Hazel Wamsley, who will be 101 Sunday, said an evening cocktail is a secret to longevity. She lives in Suisun City.

Headings’ secret to a long life also drew chuckles. His advice: “Hide a little bit.”

When asked what to hide, the Vallejo resident said, “hide from statistics.”

“Hope to see you next year,” Vasquez told him.

“I’ll be here,” Headings responded.

Hearon also proved to be a comic. She was born in Arkansas, the son of a sharecropper. Supervisor Jim Spering wanted to know if she was dating. She denied it.

That was followed by the topic of whether she still wears high heels.

“I got a little arthritis in my leg,” she said. “I don’t wear them, but I could.”

Hearon lives in Fairfield with her granddaughter, Stephanie Haynes, and Haynes’ husband, LeVon Haynes.

“She’s really 101 but sometimes she doesn’t think she is,” LeVon Haynes said. Hearon calls him “The king.”

When LeVon Haynes said he married into the family, Spering told him in jest, “Your wife is going to outlive you.”

Family members of the centenarians told the board how much the event means to them and their family members. Vallejoan Reta Wills,101, summed it this way: “I’m so grateful to be here and to have people that care enough to honor us younger people,” she said.

Other centenarians who took part in the recognition were Freddie Wilson-Newborn, 100, Fairfield; Luisa Burbank, 100, Suisun City; and Cristano Beltrain, 101, and Joseph Piazza, 100, both of Vallejo.

Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey joined the staff of the Daily Republic in 1980. She’ll tell you she was only 3 at the time. Over the past three decades she’s done a variety of jobs in the newsroom. Today, she covers arts and entertainment and writes for the Living and news pages.

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