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Apples and attitude keep centenarian active

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Most people would probably be hard pressed to name a centenarian they know personally. They would probably be even harder pressed to name one who lives on their own and can still cook and do their own laundry.

The wedding picture of Iva Vest, now 100, and her husband, Frank Vest, who passed away in 1992.

But that isn’t the case for those who know Iva Vest, 100.

“I don’t feel 100 years old,” Vest said at her Northeast Heights home. “I can do almost everything.”

That “almost everything” includes the several activities that Vest is involved in at Los Altos Christian Church, including attending Bible study every Thursday night and helping prepare the church’s newsletter to be sent out. She also participates in the church’s “Sew & Sews” group, whose members meet monthly to make quilts and lap robes that are donated to nursing homes and charities, including the Ronald McDonald House.

Vest is also still behind the wheel.

“I drive, but I drive very carefully,” she said, emphasizing the word “very.”

Vest grew up in Iowa and was raised on a farm. She moved to Albuquerque in 1951 with her husband, Frank Vest, who passed away in 1992, and their three daughters. She now has seven grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and 15 great-great-grandchildren. They are scattered throughout the country, but Vest has one grandson who lives in Albuquerque.

Vest is also a member of the Public Service Company of New Mexico Forerunners, a retirement group, and Church Women United, a national organization. In 2007, she received the Albuquerque CWU unit’s Valiant Woman Award, which recognizes a woman who has served CWU, her church and her community for a long period of time.

Vest credits her ability to be so active to that fact that, other than wearing glasses and being hard of hearing, she is in perfect health.

“I’m blessed with good health, that accounts for a lot of it,” she said. “Not even arthritis. In fact, they said, ‘You may get it.’ But I don’t have any health problems.”

Vest doesn’t have a regimen she sticks to in order to stay healthy, but she does try to take a short walk every day. She said that any other exercise she does consists solely of her household chores.

“I’ve never gone to an exercise place,” Vest said.

“But someone said a while back, ‘You should go to some exercise activity.’ Well I never have, why start now?” she said, laughing.

Vest has two classic pieces of advice for those who hope to live as long and be as active as her, one of which is to “never put off until tomorrow what can be done today.”

“That’s one thing I have tried (to do),” she said. “You never know if you’re going to be here tomorrow!”

The other involves apples, her favorite fruit. Vest said that growing up she was a picky eater, but that she loved to eat the apples from the orchard on the Iowa farm where she grew up.

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” she laughed. “And I have eaten a lot of apples in my lifetime!”