Soldotna centenarian Warren Moore says the secret to longevity is no secret at all.
"Not drinking or smoking," Moore said Feb. 28 while celebrating his 100th birthday party, at the Kenai Senior Citizens Center.
Surrounded by numerous friends and family members, Moore said he believes a lifetime of clean living is the reason for his longevity.
However, his son-in-law, Soldotna's Bill Dornberger, speculated it might have more to do with Mother Nature.
"His sister Bernice is 96," Dornberger said. "Longevity really seems to run in his family."
Moore was born in Canandaigua, N.Y., in 1903. Growing up in the hilly wilderness of upstate New York, Moore spent much of his time exploring the woods and lakes around his home. Living most of his life along the shores of Lake Canandaigua helped him develop a love of fishing, which has lasted to this day. In fact, fishing is what first brought him to the central Kenai Peninsula.
"He's been coming up here since 1989," said his daughter, Gloria. "He loves fishing."
A resident of Heritage Place in Soldotna for the past few years, Moore said a bad leg now keeps him from doing much angling. Though he did say fishing has always been one of his favorite pastimes.
"Oh yeah," he said. "I like to fish."
Photo by M. Scott Moon
A love of the outdoors also helped guide Moore into his chosen profession as a beekeeper. Until he retired, Moore raised bees in Canandaigua. From there, he made annual treks to Florida each year in order to harvest honey.
Son-in-law Bill said the toughness it took Moore to be a beekeeper might also give some insight into his long life. He said he once spent some time helping tend to the bees. After that experience, he said he could certainly vouch for Moore's grit and determination.
"Those bees, they got in his mouth, his ears, his eyes," Bill recalled. "A lot of beekeepers, they wear masks and all kinds of protection. But you know, those old-timers like him, they didn't use any of that stuff. He just brushed them aside. Before I was out of there, I was stung five times -- enough so I wouldn't go back."
But getting stung by bees wasn't something that scared Moore. He said the stings never really bothered him. However, it isn't like it never happened.
"Lots of times," he said, fondly recalling his days in New York.
Dornberger also credited the time Moore spent in Canandaigua for possibly helping him reach Feb. 28's milestone birthday.
"These old people from upstate New York, they seem to live longer," he said. "I think it's just in their genes or something."
Moore said other than avoiding the major vices, he didn't really have any advice for anyone wishing to follow in his footsteps. He said that for the present, he'll simply continue to enjoy the small pleasures in life, including spending time with his friends, family -- he has two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren -- and his roommate at Heritage place, Stanley Wooster.
Stanley's wife, Betty, said her husband and Moore spend much of their time trading stories about the past. However, she's worried some of Moore's influence might be wearing off on her husband.
Warren Moore accepts congratulations from Nick Leman, right, as he leaves a party honoring Moore's 100-year birthday with his daughter Gloria Dornberger.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
"He's a card. Warren's so sharp, he's just really funny," she said. "Stanley said to me, 'I'm going to start raising bees.' I said, 'You better wear a pair of gloves!'"
Perhaps the only drawback of having a 100th birthday is that there wasn't quite enough room on Moore's cake for all the candles. He joked that he tried to get the staff at the Kenai Senior Center to put all the candles on, to no avail.
"I told 'em to, but I guess they couldn't make it," he said.
As for future birthdays, he said he wouldn't mind seeing a few more. Although he's spent more than 100 years abstaining from alcohol and smoking, he said he still likes to have a good time. When asked what the best thing about living to be 100 years old was, he was quick with his answer.
"Having a party."
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