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Founded in 1989 by Lynn Peters Adler, J.D.
Centenarian Expert and Older Adults Advocate

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New York Times visits
Lynn Adler's centenarian party.

Continuing her association and work with centenarians, Lynn Adler recently threw a party in Phoenix, Arizona, for a few of her 100+ year old friends. The party, Lynn and the nine centenarians who were the "guests of honor" received national recognition in a June 22, 1998 The New York Times story, "As Centenarians Thrive, ‘Old’ is Redefined," by Sara Rimer.

Centenarian party goers
 Lynn Adler, standing in the center, recently threw a
party for her 100+ year old friends.
Photo courtesy of Lynn Adler

The story, which appeared on the front page of The New York Times as well as on the front pages of several other major daily newspapers, including The Arizona Republic, highlights a few of the party goers, the accomplishments of some centenarians, the fact that reaching 100 is no longer viewed as an oddity and that the number of centenarians is steadily increasing: In the United States by the middle of the next century, that number is expected to be more than 800,000.

Following are excerpts from The New York Times story.

Lloyd Botimer, 103, walked in carrying the medal he had won in the javelin throw in the Senior Olympics three years ago. Essie Brown, 105, who wore a blue dress and heels, let it be known that she was looking for a dance partner. And 101-year-old Lenore Schaeffer brought news clippings attesting to her fame as a ballroom-dancing centenarian. Last year, she made the "Tonight" show with Jay Leno, and the cover of the Japanese edition of Newsweek.

Back in her early 90s, Mrs. Schaeffer tried to get on "Tonight" with Johnny Carson. "He wrote back and said that she was too young," said Mrs. Schaeffer's son, Lou Schaeffer, who is 60. "One hundred-one and still dancing, that's different."

…Ms. Adler, the founder of the nonprofit National Centenarian Awareness Project and author of a book about centenarians, says that baby boomers have traded in their youthful motto "Don't trust anyone over 30" for "Let's live to be 100." Still, attitudes toward the very old are a mixture of admiration and dread.

... "I just look forward to the next day," said Merle McEathron, who will turn 103 on the last day of July and was among those eating cake at Lynn Adler's centenarian party. "If it's nice, I go for a walk." Mrs. McEathron, who grew up on a farm and reared two children alone during the Depression after her first husband left her, said her later years had been the best ones. It was not until her eighth decade that she was able to stop working, as a restaurant hostess and hotel cashier.

At 80, she was married for the fourth time, to a retired Navy admiral one year her junior. "That was the love of my life, honey," she said. He died 12 years ago. Mrs. McEathron lives in her own apartment in an assisted living center. She enjoys a daily glass of wine. And, she said, "I salt everything."

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