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Donald Nix of Vallejo, left, talks to Afton Harvey of Vallejo, Tuesday, at the Solano County Government building in Fairfield. Solano County honored its centenarians during a Board of Supervisors meeting. Nix and Harvey are both 100-years-old. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

Solano County

Solano honors those who have hit the century mark

By From page A1 | October 02, 2013

FAIRFIELD — Vallejo may hold a secret to aging.

Half of the eight centenarians honored Tuesday by the Solano County Board of Supervisors were from Vallejo. The remaining were one from Fairfield, one from Suisun City, one from Dixon and one from Benicia.

Harcharan Singh, born in 1908, was the oldest to attend. The youngest was Afton Harvey, who hit the century mark in June. Both are from Vallejo.

Linda Seifert, chairwoman of the board, shared some of the major events from 1913, including the National Women’s Party being formed and the 16th Amendment, which allows Congress to levy an income tax.

Hitting the century mark wasn’t the only thing the honorees had in common, Seifert said, noting that most didn’t smoke, were active, ate healthy diets and handled stress well. The last prompted her to share stress balls with her fellow board members.

“I want all of you to live to be 100,” she said.

There are an estimated 43 centenarians in Solano County. Singh is believed to be the oldest. Until January he faced some competition from Dr. Seymour Marcuse, also of Vallejo, who died about a month shy of his 106th birthday.

It was the third time Betty Simpson, 103, made it to the event. The Benicia resident traveled the world in 1936.

Daughter Alexa Simpson told the standing-room-only crowd inside the supervisors’ chamber that her mother recently had a cardiologist tell her Betty Simpson’s heart was more like that of someone approaching 60.

“She still dances, by the way,” Alexa Simpson said.

Vallejoan Dr. Donald Nix turned 100 in February. He drove to Arizona so he could celebrate with one of his sons. He reminded Seifert on Tuesday that the two had met at the Suisun waterfront a few years back and that she still owed him a lunch.

Supervisor Erin Hannigan wanted to know the secret of Singh’s longevity.

“He drank a lot of milk and chugged down purified butter,” a family member translated. Singh speaks Punjabi. A grandson sought to clarify the answers. “He worked long days to burn all that off,” he said.

Singh visited the Harmandir Sahib, the “Golden Temple” in India, about six months ago.

Harvey touted constant movement as the secret to her longevity.

“We walked, we danced,” she told Hannigan. But she wouldn’t share a story from her years as a fifth-grade teacher. “I can’t tell tales like that,” she said.

Cosie Hearon, of Fairfield, wore a black beaded hat to the event. Supervisor Jim Spering chatted with her. Accompanying Hearon were granddaughter Stephanie Haynes and Haynes’ husband, LeVon Haynes.

“You married into the family so you probably won’t live long,” Spering said, in jest, to LeVon Haynes.

Hazel Wamsley arrived at the celebration with her great-great-grandson, Matthew Norman, 2, sitting on her lap. The 102-year-old Suisun City resident says a normal life, and an evening vodka Collins, keep her young.

Supervisor John Vasquez, who suggested the centenarian celebration when his kindergarten teacher turned 100, spoke with Maria Machado, a Dixon resident, who is 102.

“At last year’s event she thought everyone was making a big fuss about her,” Vasquez said.

Other Solano County centenarians include:

  • Pilar Cortes Venture, 101, Vallejo.
  • Emilia Barrett, 101, Fairfield.
  • Johnie Wilson-McKinney, 100, Fairfield.
  • Luisa Burbank, 101, Suisun City.
  • Leona Bonovich, 100, Winters.

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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