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Celebrating Centenarians


Veteran broadcaster Willard Scott is likely best known for his reports on the joys of living to be 100. His colleagues on NBC’s Today show felt that the peripatetic weather reporter had made aging cool through his on-air birthday celebrations of ordinary people with extraordinary life spans. When Scott fully retired in 2015, there were 76,974 centenarians according to the U.S. Census, a population that is projected to grow to a million by the year 2050.

What is the secret to longevity? At Belmont Village, we decided to start by asking the experts, our own centenarians. Belmont Village is regularly home to about 50 residents who have made it to the 100-year mark. We celebrate their longevity through the portraits of these remarkable people. In their stories you will find common themes that shed light on their secrets to living a long life. Family. Faith. Love. Career. Luck. Eva Altkorn of Belmont Village Glenview, IL, age 100, sums it up, “Work hard and be nice.”

Certainly medical advances and lifestyle improvements play a major role in living longer. We are confident that living at Belmont Village and senior living communities throughout the nation also contribute to the growing trend. Informed by science and now with decades of experience, we are the experts at promoting health and well-being in our senior years, the right stuff for a long life.

We are deeply grateful for the continuing creative collaboration with photographer Thomas Sanders whose talent honors the residents of Belmont Village. Thanks to the residents and family members for letting us come into their lives. If their enthusiasm and vitality are any indication of what’s to come, living 100 years will be a fact for many more people and as joyful as Willard Scott first showed it to be.

Jeffrey M. DeBevec
Senior Vice President of Communications Belmont Village

Merle Phillips

Being 110 years old has given me the opportunity to see many things and accomplish a lot…

Michael Bellardo

My idea of perfect happiness is sleeping, watching the Warriors win basketball games and seeing my kids anytime…

Ruth Meyrowitz

My husband Alvin was the greatest love of my life. We met while he was a student at Cornell University…

Maxine Manson

I admired my mother so much. As she made me feel important. She made our ordinary home into a palace. She made it beautiful with her talents….

Susan Lindenbaum

My motto is to look forward and think positively. I don’t believe there is perfect happiness other than happiness to be with friends and family….

Jean Burja

I was born in Johnson City, Illinois where I lived on a farm with my family. I was the second youngest of five children…

Karin Jaeger

I was 17 years old when I moved to the U.S. from Bergen, Norway. My friend and I came over on a Norwegian military ship in 1934….

Sophia Boltacz

I spent the first 40 years of my life in Pennsylvania. I was one of 13 children so there was never a dull moment…

Felice Atencio

My family hails from Great Britain (father) and Northern New Mexico (mother). So I am of English-Spanish-American Indian decent…

Lucille Graves

I’ve had many jobs throughout my lifetime, from being a cook at Henry Booth House to a seamstress at Saks Fifth Avenue…

Louise Pendarvis

I have spent my whole life in the Oak Park/ River Forest area of Illinois. I loved growing up here and raising my own family here…

Douglas Clark

I traveled to more than 130 countries – from Morocco and Libya to Singapore and Australia – preaching the gospel…

Ruth Matthias

I’m a tried-and-true Cubs fan. My late husband was scouted by the Cubs as a pitcher in 1934…

Julia Segel

I was born in a fairly small town in Hungary and was the second youngest of six children…

Eva Altkorn

My family emigrated from Russia. I was the youngest of seven children, the only one of my siblings born in the states…

Siegfried “Sigi” Kornbluth

“My motto is to have good luck –“Mazel Tov”– and I think that it has been true for most of my life…

Bernice Burlingame

My idea of perfect happiness is to spend time with my family.

Adele Weinstein

My motto is to have a positive attitude and stay in balance. I smile because you don’t see the wrinkles. They are wisdom lines…

Sylvia Lieberman

It’s never too late to realize your dream. I published my book while in my nineties….