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Janet Brooks, 101

Born in October 1906, in Michigan to Swedish immigrant parents John and Emma Olson, Janet moved with her family to Minnesota, in 1919.
            The baby of the family, Janet had six older sisters—Jennie, Gertrude, Ann, Marian, Helen and Ruth and one brother, Jack.  They all lived together with their parents well into adulthood.
           “My parents were gregarious and we often had people at our house.  When I look at pictures of our home, I wonder how we all fit, it is fairly small.  But we all got along, encouraged one another and were kind to one another.”

            After graduating from high school in Minneapolis, Janet was able to attend one year studying at the University of Minnesota. Then she realized she needed to get a job.  After attending school where she learned typing and shorthand, she landed a job in an office.
            “Although I did not find the job very interesting,” Jane remembers, “by now the Depression had hit and WWII loomed on the horizon, so anyone who had a job hung on to it, including me.”
            Several years passed and she obtained an office position with another employer where she met her husband, William “Bill” Brooks. After three years of courtship and at the age of 53, Janet married Bill. They shared a love of walking, hiking and traveling and made several motorcar trips to the East Coast, visiting Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut. In 1967 they moved to Arizona, buying property and building a house in Kings Canyon, now called Gold Canyon.
            “These were our halcyon days,” Janet recalls, “as we explored the desert in our 4-wheeler and spent a lot of time hiking together.”
            Bill died in January 1988.  In 1991, her sister Ruth moved to Arizona and she and Janet shared a condominium until her sister’s death.
            At age 101, Janet lives independently. When asked to what she attributes her good health and longevity, she states matter-of-factly: “I inherited long-life genes. My father lived to age 91 and his mother lived to age 92, while my mother’s youngest sister lived to be 103.”
            When pressed a bit about her living habits, it is clear that she has always had an inquisitive, active mind.
            “Although my father was a carpenter and did not have an advanced formal education, in our house we always had good books (including the Harvard Classics), good magazines and good newspapers. My father was an avid reader. I have always loved reading. It was always the most important part of my life."
            While she has experienced some diminishment in her eyesight and hearing, she stays abreast of local and world developments through National Public Radio. She continues her love of reading and literature through Talking Books. Joseph Conrad is one of her favorite authors, and as she comments: “To the glory of the English language, Joseph Conrad, a Pole, wrote in English.”
            Always physically active, Janet enjoyed ice skating, golf, tennis and hiking during most of her life. She swims every day. “I learned to swim at age 13 and while there were many years when I did not, one never forgets how.  I have been swimming daily for several years now.” She also has a weekly massage, a practice she began in 1989.
            As to diet, Janet says: “While I am not a vegetarian, I do stick mostly to fruits and vegetables … and a little chicken. And I eat salads made of that lettuce which supposedly has no nutritional value: iceberg lettuce, because I like its crunch.” 


1998-2012 National Centenarian Awareness Project & Lynn Peters Adler, J.D.
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