It takes a lot of exercise, some smart decisions and a little bit of luck to live a long time.
That from Roger Owen, 94, whom I shared lunch with a few weeks ago at GreenRidge at Buckner Villas, a retirement community in North Austin.
Readers Gus and Jackie Browning invited me up for a visit, and besides lunch I got a quick tour of the facility’s gym and swimming pool. They’re a healthy bunch up there.
Owen, who grew up on a farm near Wichita Falls with eight siblings, attended Texas Tech University and served in World War II.
“The secret is good genes,” he says. “You’ve got to be disciplined, and you’ve got to have professionals to help you.”
Owen, who once flew B29s, worked as an electrical engineer and later served as vice president of a power company. Today he exercises in the gym at GreenRidge twice a week, walks 1.5 miles two or three times a week, does balance exercises and does what he calls “pool walking,” trotting back and forth across the swimming pool.
“You have to work at it,” Owen says.
He takes Sundays off, and keeps mentally sharp by working Sudoku puzzles. During our group lunch, he recited, from memory, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem “How Do I Love Thee” in its entirety.
Perhaps most impressively, though, Owen told me he takes no medications. How many 94-year-olds do you know who can say that?
He shared a few more life tips with me. He says he’s never been drunk, he’s never smoked, and he and his wife, who has since passed away, were virgins when they were married.