Four Rocklin residents celebrate 100 years of life

By: Teresa O'Hanlon, Placer Herald Correspondent
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So how do you get 100 years of living under your belt? Evelyn Golbranson credits her love of music. Mildred Stark remembers living a good clean life. Martha Sullivan treasures many friendships. Abe Bellinoff jokes about remembering to breathe. All four residents of Rocklin?s Casa de Santa Fe, a senior living community, have different ideas as to why they?ve become centenarians, reaching the magical age of 100. ?I?ve been 100 for almost a year and my family will be here for my 101st birthday on June 28,? said Mildred Stark who lived independently until recently. ?We?re all friends here and this is a very happy place.? Casa de Santa Fe offers residents three levels of care based on their needs: independent living, assisted living, and expanded services for memory care. The group that makes up the centenarian club easily convinces visitors they are not only young at heart, but age is nothing more than a number. ?All four are so active and a lot of people don?t even know they are 100,? shared Venise Taaffe, activities director at Casa de Santa Fe. ?They still participate. It gives hope to all the other residents that at 100 years old they can still be active and contribute to the community.? Martha Sullivan has always lived independently and enjoys decorating her apartment in elegant cottage designs, including a vintage photo collage that speaks of the past. ?This is the boy I went with in high school,? pointed out Sullivan. ?He was Catholic and I was Lutheran so we had to break up. Years later his wife died and my husband died. I hadn?t seen him for 60 years. Then we decided to get married. We were married for 10 years and we had a cruise every year.? Stories of love, tears, hard work, and family transport these centenarians back to a different time and place. ?I was a music teacher and my husband was a musician,? shared Evelyn Golbranson. ?My husband was also a singer. I was a violinist. I loved Irving Berlin. And, of course, I remember Gene Kelly, the dancer.? Abe Bellinoff was born the year the Titanic sank, lived through two World Wars, and spent 23 years in the Air Force. He remembers the joys of childhood when all he wanted to do was play outside with his friends. ?I lived on a city block in Brooklyn when I was a kid and we lived fairly close to Ebbets Field where the Dodgers played,? recalled Bellinoff. ?I could get up on my roof where we lived and I could see into the baseball field. We always hung out with our gang of friends and played ball primarily.? As children in the 1920s, the centenarians lived through their mothers gaining the right to vote, newspaper reports of the discovery of King Tut?s tomb, and the famous Rin-Tin-Tin appearing on the big screen in silent movies. ?I think it was five cents to go to the movies,? added Mildred Stark, who grew up in New York. ?It seems so long ago. I remember I worked as a salesgirl in Macy?s Department Store. We all worked hard for our money. Everybody worked.? While doctors have long debated the role of a healthy lifestyle on a long lifeline, all four centenarians seemed to agree that hard work has paid off. ?We were through it and we all worked!? exclaimed Golbranson. ?Always worked all my life from the time I was 12 years old, I babysat.? With a diet heavy on grains, fish, and vegetables and light on meat, eggs, and dairy products, the Casa de Santa Fe centenarians hope to stay as active as possible. ?At Casa de Santa Fe we have a high emphasis on activities, such as walking, exercise, water aerobics, outings, entertainment, and gardening,? noted Taaffe. ?Our residents are active in one or all activities.? Martha Sullivan is happy to be living in a caring community with lots of friends. ?Once a man across the way moved in and he was about 70 years old,? she chuckled. ?We became good friends and he finally asked me my age. He thought I was 68. That was a few years ago.?