The Time of Their Lives

A dozen Angelenos share their thoughts about getting on in years and staying strong

Henry LeventonHenry Leventon
Retired bank officer, Eagle Rock.

Outlook: “You have to accept what life gives you. I thank God every day that I can answer the question, How old are you? and I can say I’m 84.”
Exercise: “I ride an exercise bike daily. I used to go on a long walk, but last June I had a heart attack.”
Diet: “I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, I cut down on fats, and I have low-sodium soup. I don’t go to extremes. I will eat a piece of candy.”
Smoke? No.
Drink? No.
Age: 84.

Tina LenertTina Lenert
Mime-magician, Pasadena.

Outlook: “When people ask, ‘How old do you feel?’ I say, ‘I feel like a 66-year-old who has taken care of herself.’ I never say, ‘Well, I am 40, but I feel 20.’ ”
Exercise: Yoga, jogging.
Diet: “I’m a lacto-vegetarian. But I have a little chocolate every day and French fries a couple times a week.”
Smoke? No.
Drink? No.
Age: 66.

Rudy SalinasRudy Salinas
Retired Red Cross media planner, East L.A.

Philosophy: “To try to do exercise, watch what I eat, and just try to be a calm person.”
Exercise: Handball, racquetball, swimming, yoga. “My girlfriend and I like to dance.”
Diet: “I am much more careful than I used to be…. I am focused on sugar content and weight.”
Smoke? No.

Alice PurdieAlice Purdie
Retired secretary, Culver City.

Outlook: “I had two sisters, and I dream of them almost every other night saying, ‘Come on, Alice.’ I pray that I will fall asleep and join them.”
Exercise: “I walk a lot.”
Diet: “I have a big appetite all the time. Everything about my retirement home is wonderful, except the food.”
Smoke? “When I was in my teens, it was fashionable to smoke, but I tried not to inhale.”
Drink? “I drink highballs socially.”
Age: 100

Paul HudsonPaul Hudson
Financial adviser to nonprofits and former head of L.A. NAACP, West Adams.

Outlook: “Early on I took the position that health was important…because I could see myself at an age where it would be difficult to stand up.”
Exercise: Aerobics, strength training, Spinning, and more.
Diet: Pescatarian. “I’ve been trying to work on portions, carbs, and sugars. No coffee.”
Smoke? No.
Drink? No.
Age: 66.

Frances PriskFrances H. Prisk
Retired H&R Block tax preparer, Covina.

Outlook: “I’m still having fun times, so getting older doesn’t bother me. No Botox. No surgery. Just wrinkles.”
Exercise: Dancing, yard- and housework. “I trim the trees, I get up on the roofbut I shouldn’t mention it, my family will get mad at me.”
Diet: “I eat less now than I used to, but I eat just about everything.”
Smoke? “I quit in ’86.”
Drink? “Saturday, I had two 7&7’s. And when I go to karaoke, I have one drink.”
Age: 77.

Debbie KelsoDebbie Kelso
Retired county administrator, Crenshaw District.

Outlook: “There is a commercial on TV right now about baby boomers that says, ‘We’re not done yet.’ We’re not. We have a lot of things we still want to do.”
Exercise: Walking.
Diet: “A lot of green leafy vegetables and fruit. I have taken granulated cane sugar out of my house. I have coconut sugar and agave.”
Smoke? No.
Drink? “I love a good glass of champagne.”
Age: 64.

Dan KwongDan Kwong
Performance artist, Santa Monica.

Outlook: “Things that you thought were so crucial and important turn out to be, ‘Oh, that was just another little marker along the road of life and there will be more to come.’ ”
Exercise: Baseball, yoga, running, light weights. “If I wanted to jump over a wall, I could, but I am having to face the fact that I’d better do a few minutes of yoga stretches before trying.”
Diet: “I try to eat a fair amount of fresh vegetables and avoid high-fructose corn syrup, but I eat an occasional order of French fries.”
Smoke? No.
Drink? No.
Age: 59.

Esther SpicerEsther Spicer
Retired beautician, Montebello.

Philosophy: “My husband taught me, ‘You look in someone’s eyes and you see the good, and you can transfer that spiritually.’ He said, ‘You have to trust people, love people, because we all have problems.’ ”
Outlook: This is such a wonderful period in our lives. Older people have so much to say, if the young will listen.
Exercise: Walking.
Diet: “I love meat, but I eat a lot of organic stuff.”
Smoke? No.
Drink? Socially.
Age: 87.

Samera SalmanSamera Salman
Senior lab assistant, Santa Clarita.

Philosophy: “Life is like sculpture. From some mud you can make a beautiful body. You can make ugly things, too.”
Exercise: Walking.
Diet: “If you put salad in front of me every day with a piece of grilled chicken, I am happy with it. But we cheat, right? Like yesterday I had cinnamon buns.”
Smoke? No.
Drink? “Occasionally. I like wine.”
Age: 63.

Yosh NakamuraYosh Nakamura
Artist and retired VP of Rio Hondo College, Whittier.

Philosophy: “Chelsea Clinton said her grandmother told her that it isn’t what happens to you that is important; it’s what you do when something happens to you. I’ve been living that philosophy all my life.”
Exercise: Tai chi, regular visits to the gym.
Diet: “A lot of fish, fruit, vegetables, nuts, whole grains. We try to stay away from fat.”
Smoke? No.
Drink? No.
Age: 89.

Grace NakamuraGrace Shinoda Nakamura
Retired educator, Whittier.

Philosophy: “I believe that you can have a fulfilled life if you try to think positively and make the most of situations, if you try to live by the Golden Rule, if you’re accepting of people, and if you try to give service
to others.”
Exercise: Tai chi.
Smoke? No.
Drink? No.
Age: 87.


This article originally appeared in the November 2014 issue feature How to Live a Long Life in L.A.

Photographs by Meiko Takechi Arquillos