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Celebrating Our Centenarians

Marple Friends & Neighbors, September 2022
Ralph Perkner with his family on his 101st birthday

Albert Einstein once said, “Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” That’s the thing about wisdom, it cannot be taught. We gain it over time, through our own life experiences and sage advice from those who know a thing or two about living a
long, meaningful life.

Join us this month as we celebrate National Centenarian’s Day on September 22nd. It is a day set aside each year to celebrate and honor those who have reached the age of 100. The day was originally proclaimed as a time to partake in the rich history and wisdom shared by centenarians.

Over the years, as the human population and life expectancy have increased, so have the number of people who live to 100 years of age. According to the United Nations, there are over 570,000 centenarians in the world currently, with the United States being home to 97,000 of them.

Ralph Perkner’s cake
for his 101st birthday

Photos courtesy of Ellen Murray

When you stop to think about it, our current centenarians have lived and experienced more life-changing events than our future generations can ever imagine. These precious members of society have lived through the Great Depression, World Wars and Civil Wars. They’ve witnessed the invention of television, the golden age of radio, the innovation of air travel, all the way to the exploration of space and the digital revolution — they have lived and seen it all in one lifetime!

Listening to centenarians’ stories is always inspiring, and this is one day to be cherished by everyone to honor those among us who have seen a century go by.

One of our local centenarian’s is Ralph Perkner. Ralph moved to Broomall in the 1980s and he and his wife raised their five children here.

Ralph turned 101 this past February and still lives here in Broomall. A lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, Ralph proudly served in World War II. After serving in the war, he worked as an optometrist until he finally retired at age 90.

These days, Ralph likes to spend time with his family. Prior to the pandemic he was swimming three times a week. When asked how he got to 101, he said, “You just deal with things as they come.” He also said he didn’t drink or smoke, which contributed to his long life.

Mr. Eugene Vickers with his daughters to
celebrate his 105th birthday. (L-R): Beverly,
Brenda, Eugene, Barbara and Betty Jean

Photo courtesy of Barbara Vickers

One of our most cherished Newtown Square residents, Mr. Eugene Vickers, was no stranger to our magazine. Mr. Vickers, a family man, and retired U.S. Navy Lieutenant recently passed away at 106 years old, surrounded by his loving family.

Eugene’s daughter, Barbara Vickers said that her father considered his faith and his family his number one priority. “As a family we ate dinner together, many times guessing what he had eaten for lunch that day. He made it a game and we loved to play along,” she recalled. “Dad helped us with our homework, played softball with us, read Bible stories and prayed with us before bed.”

Barbara said that her father was often asked what advice he had for young people with their lives ahead of them. “Proverbs 3:5,6 in the Bible was his answer: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”

Centenarians will always be with us at each point in history, and all the memories of the lives they’ve lived will continue to live on when passed down.