The secrets to a long and happy life offered by those will will mark their 100th birthday or more this year were as individual as the people providing them.
Heredity, family and remaining active are all qualities that the centenarians said helped them to have a long life. A sense of humor and not worrying were also identified as attributes that contribute to longevity.
Christine Petersen of Butte is 103 and her advice for a happy life, she said, involved friends, children and a happy marriage.
A good marriage is important to her, she said, explaining that yes, she did indeed marry the right man.
She and Herbert married in 1932, she said. She remembers their 50th anniversary but beyond that, she said, too many years have passed to recall.
Petersen was born in Denmark while her mother was there visiting. Her mother died during childbirth, she said, and it wasn’t until she was 8 that she journeyed to the United States where her father was ranching near Bannack, outside of Dillon.
Brief biographies assembled by the state for this event, held at the Red Lion Colonial Inn in Helena, said Petersen arrived with her siblings to join their father.
Petersen’s advice for a long life is to eat healthy food, work hard and have a positive outlook on life.
“Probably 100 other reasons right now I can’t think of,” she said and added, “Make the best of every day.”
Edith Spencer came from Bozeman for the celebration, as she will mark her 100th birthday in August.
“I don’t believe in growing old,” she said. “I just grow. If I get old, that’s an accident.”
“Belief in God and in the next day,” she said of what has allowed her to have a long life. “And God comes first because there might not be another day.”
There was no pause when asked for advice on how to have a happy life.
“Marry the right person,” she said. “I did. Robert Clark Spencer.”
Her biography said they came to Montana in the late 1980s to be closer to their youngest son and his family.
Fritz Weed, who will be 100 by year’s end, said hard work and “behaving yourself once in a while,” were his secrets to having a long life.
“You have to have a little fun now and then,” added the Helena resident who was born in Terry.
He, like Spencer, said marriage can be important in having a happy life.
“I had a beautiful wife for 60 years,” he said.
“It sure was good,” he said.
Ruth Arnold, 103 and from Three Forks, was among the centenarians scattered throughout the audience.
Her German ancestry, she said, contributed to her long life.
Having a happy life, she said, means “having a good attitude and trying to do the right thing. Be kind to other people and respect other people.”
“I’ve found a good word goes a long ways,” Arnold said.
Gov. Steve Bullock, the keynote speaker, singled out several of the centenarians as he spoke and made note of Charles Bennetts, 101, of Fairfield, who rode his horse to school. In Bennetts' senior year, he rode in minus 50 degree weather to take an exam at the community’s high school.
While noting how the centenarians have been active, Bullock pointed out that being active is the key to success in all of their lives.
To make it to 100 a person needs the right genes, a good dose of determination and the right luck, he said.