The Other Side of 50

Centenarian says breathing the key to a long life

FAIRFIELD — The secret to hitting 100 is simple, said Lila Flamming.

“Breathing in and breathing out” was her response to the question on how she’s made it to the century mark.

“I don’t have sense enough to grow old,” she said.

Being a voracious reader with a sense of humor has also helped.

Born in Grand Junction, Colo., Flamming landed in Fairfield the first time when her husband Pete Flamming was serving in the military. When he retired, they returned to live in the home they had purchased several years earlier.

Flamming still lives there today. She enjoys guests and loves to share stories from her life. She’s done everything from working as a nurse during World War II to driving a truck on Mare Island.

Her husband’s job took them overseas to Libya where they lived in buildings made of brick, and experienced Fairfield-type winds that blew in the sand. Then there were the bugs.

“The cockroaches were big enough to saddle,” Flamming said, in jest.

The couple also lived in Greece, Turkey, Italy and Germany. And there was the four years in Alaska. She refers to the transition from the Mideast to the Northern Hemisphere as “from the ridiculous to the sublime.”

Alaska was a favorite, though.

“You never knew when some moose would come and stick their head in the window,” she said.

She also got to see the Iditarod one year.

The couple talked about retiring in Alaska but the Air Force sent him to Travis Air Force Base in 1963 and they purchased a home.

The Flammings barely had a chance to settle in when he was sent to Puerto Rico for three years. From there it was off to Spokane, Wash. Pete Flamming retired in 1969 and the couple returned to Fairfield. He died in 1976.

Lila Flamming never considered dating, she said.

“No one could have lived up to him,” she said.

Flamming has four children. Two of them have died.

She spent several years volunteering at Travis Air Force Base Family Services, was a member of the Society of Military Widows and taught herself to play the organ.

About 60 people were expected to celebrate her birthday recently. Some were traveling from out of state. Her favorite cake – lemon – was on the menu.

Flamming is a lifetime member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She was baptized in the Jordan (Utah) River.

“She has an amazing memory,” said friend Barbara Ferguson.

Another, Julie Smith, said, “She has enriched my life.”

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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