Dozens celebrate 100 years and offer up advice

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray met with centenarians on Tuesday, celebrating their influence and enhancement of the community. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Mary Meyer, 100, traveled for her job and says she was always active. She has taken every exercise class you can think of, she says, including walking 4 miles a day. She also swears by eating less and in small portions. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Theresa Johnson, 100, says what keeps her young is playing Bingo. The eighth of 11 children, Johnson visits the nearby casino in Baltimore each day and says she thinks it helps her live longer because she loves to win. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Mary Parsons, 103, says she spent her childhood learning the value of hard work. During the summer, her mother would have Mary and her siblings weeding and planting in the garden early in the morning. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Alma Matthews is 102 years old, was raised in Florence, S.C., and says her faith is what has kept her alive. She says she delighted in voting for the country's first black president, since she remembers a time when she couldn't vote because of her race. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Marie Johnson, 101, grew up in Norfolk, Va., and says her secret to staying so young is to "keep on prayin'." (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Carletha West, 101, worked for the Department of Navy for 31 years and was an avid bowler. She says her secrets are keeping her faith strong and getting up and moving. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Milton Scandrett, 100, is one of 21 men in the District who have lived past 100. Compare that to the 174 women who've hit the century mark. Born in Atlanta, Scandrett's wife says his secret to staying so healthy is spending time outdoors and in the garden. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Mabel Harvey, 101, grew up in Pomfret, Md., and worked in a hospital. She says her faith has kept her so healthy all these years. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
George Boggess, 101, was born in Waco, Texas, and came to Washington to attend Howard University. He marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965. He says the secret to life is walking. He didn't have a car until he was 25. Up until then, he says, he walked everywhere. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Geneva Hale Perry, 101, tried to convince the table she was 91 years old. She says she's not a spring chicken and was humble, saying she had no idea what the secret to living so long was. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Lois Showell was born April 13, 1912, and is about to celebrate a big birthday. She grew up taking care of animals on her family's farm in Stockton, Md., and says her secret is staying busy and helping out. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Elizabeth Lee is the oldest person in the room. At 106 years old, she was not fond of having her picture taken. She says her secret to living so long is due to the fact she "ain't have nothing else to do." (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Rayfield Griffin, 102, was born in Johnstown, S.C. He was driving and fixing things at his church only a few years ago, his grandson says. He says having faith and staying active are what have kept him living so long. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Rozalia Simmons has gone by Rose for the better part of her 100 years. From Hatfield, Ala., Simmons says her secret to long life is eating small meals three hours apart. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)

Megan Cloherty,

WASHINGTON – George Boggess fought in World War II, marched along Martin Luther King Jr. and served his neighbors at the D.C. Superior Court. Now, the 101-year-old is imparting advice on how to live a long life.

His goal: 105.

“I attribute my longevity to a great extent to walking, not being in the back of the car strapped down,” Boggess says.

Boggess joined a dozen other D.C. centenarians in an annual celebration of their long lives, which was put on by the city’s Office on Aging and Family Matters of Greater Washington.

Today, 195 residents who have passed the century mark live in the District. Only 21 of them are men.

“It seems that these ladies need to share some tips with the men here,” said D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray at Tuesday’s reception.

Honoree Carletha West says everyone keeps asking her what is in the water she’s drinking.

“I told them I’m going to bottle some water and start selling it like that and tell them this is what I drink,” West says.

Both West and Boggess say they think staying active is what got them to this stage of life. Mary Meyer, 100, couldn’t agree more.

“I’ve done almost everything that I know of: ballet, I’ve done tai chi. I’ve done yoga. I walked 4 miles day. I stretched and flexed. I wrote the book,” Meyer says.

She also ate small meals and traveled a lot, which required even more walking.

Several of the centenarians had siblings who also lived past 100 years of age and fewer than 20 percent of them live in nursing homes, according to the Office on Aging.

Mayor Gray says he wants seniors in the District to be able to live where they want and how they want, as long as possible.

“We want to make sure people who are vibrant and involved in their community can do that,” Gray says.

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