100 years of wisdom: Tucson celebrates local centenarians

100 years of wisdom: Tucson celebrates local centenarians

Nearly 50 locals at least 99 years old and older were celebrated at the Tucson Medical Center for the annual "Salute our Centenarians" event.

48 locals aged 99 or older were in attendance, the oldest being 109 years old. Each centenarian was honored as speakers gave a brief history of their long and colorful lives.

"I have been in Tucson since 1945," says 100 year-old Helen Musselman, one of the founders of Musselmans Honda. "I still go in to work five days a week. I have to, I have to have something to do!" she says. "I just keep going because I like it. I like to go to work, talk to people. People come in just to see me."

The Tucson Medical Center estimates there are about 250 centenarians living in Pima County.

That includes 100-year-old Don Davis, who still works on his own car and maintains an active drivers license.

"I ride my bicycle and eat salads everyday," says Davis, who also like to read mechanic and nature magazines, and never says no to a gin martini.

His secret to a long life?

"Keep smiling, and don't take it too seriously."

Native Tucsonan 99-year-old Genevieve Martinez Whalen was also honored.

"I like Tucson very much," says Whalen, who was born at a house in the Barrio Viejo neighborhood nearly a century ago. I'm so glad that it has grown so beautiful, getting better and better all the time, and I'm very thankful to be here."

Whalen and her friends would walk long distances across town, including to the San Xavier Mission and up "A" Mountain, during the 1920's and 30's. She says no one even thought of taking a car. She says her secret to a long life involves not sweating the small stuff, eating what she loves, and staying close to family. A sweet tooth, Whalen says doctors would tell her she would never make it 99 years old.

"I don't know how I'm here," she says, smiling. I used to work with doctors and dentists, and they used to tell me you're not going to be old the way you eat. I was always eating candy and sodas, but here I am."

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