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One Hundred Years of Stories
Yearlong Radio Series Profiles American Centenarians

January-December 2000 -- One Hundred Years of Stories is a series of profiles of American centenarians aired throughout 2000 on NPR's Morning Edition. There are now more 100-year-olds alive than at any other time in history, and longevity studies are finding many of them are active, healthy and engaged with the world around them. Producer Neenah Ellis set out to meet these people and to hear what insights, memories and wisdom they had to offer.

January 27, 2000: Introduction
Series producer Neenah Ellis explains why she's interested in meeting centenarians and describes the many incorrect assumptions she had when she began interviewing people. In this piece we meet Margaret Rawson, 100, international expert on dyslexia; Abraham Goldstein, 102, who teaches business law at Baruch College in New York; Ella Miller, 119, born in 1880; Mona Breckner, 104, career social worker; and Anna Wilmot, 102, who still swims in the lake behind her house.
Listen to Neenah Ellis explainListen to Ellis explain



Harry Boeff Harry Boeff

December 28, 2000: Harry Boeff
Harry Boeff has lived on the same street in Rochester, New York, for 75 years and his neighbors affectionately call him "the mayor of Belmont Street." In his backyard, he has a raspberry patch that produces 400 pints of fruit every summer which he gives away to his friends, "... and I have no enemies." His health is good but he dearly misses his wife, Florence, to whom he was married for 77 years. She passed away in 1999. Mr. Boeff says he had a rough start in life, but thinks he'll be okay, "... with help from above."
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November 30, 2000: Louisiana Hines

Louisiana Hines Louisiana Hines

Louisiana Hines was born in Crenshaw County, Alabama, in 1898, and like many centenarians, she is the keeper of her family's history. Mrs. Hines' grandparents were former slaves and at a young age they told her stories about their lives. Today she lives independently, in her own home, in Detroit, Michigan.
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October 26, 2000: Marion Cowen

Marion Cowen Marion Cowen

Marion Cowen is 101 years old and lives in San Francisco. He had a long career in the theater and in filmmaking, both in New York and on the West Coast. His memory isn't what is used to be, but he still has vivid stories about his childhood, especially the 1906 earthquake and fire that devastated the Bay area. He lives independently on the far west side of the city with his 26-year-old cat, Soho.
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September 28, 2000: Helen and Bill Boardman

Helen and Bill Boardman Helen and Bill Boardman

Helen Boardman is 104 years old and lives at an assisted living facility in Schaumberg, Illlinois called Friendship Village. When Helen was in her early 90s she met and fell in love with fellow resident Bill Boardman, who coincidentally has the same last name. A few years later, they were married. As you might expect, Helen and Bill are optimists. They see life as a series of opportunities and, to them, growing old is an adventure to be shared.
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August 31, 2000: Abraham Goldstein

Abraham Goldstein Abraham Goldstein

Abraham Goldstein, age 101, is a professor of business law at Baruch College in New York, where he started teaching in 1930. He might be the oldest active professor in the country. (If you've heard of someone older, let us know.) He had his own law practice in New York until the 1970s, but didn't feel the need to give up teaching, too. Most of his duties involve tutoring students one-on-one, but he also prepares an annual summary of important business law decisions -- and they're distributed to the faculty to keep others current. Professor Goldstein is much loved by colleagues and students at the college for his generosity, his deep knowledge of the law and his great sense of humor.
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July 27, 2000: Margaret Byrd Rawson

Margaret Byrd Rawson Margaret Byrd Rawson

Margaret Byrd Rawson is 101 and a world-reknowned expert in dyslexia. She lives in her own home in Frederick, Maryland, and is able to carry on her extensive research and study, despite her many physical limitations. She is the author of a study called Dyslexia Over the Lifespan which followed the lives and later the careers of 56 dyslexic boys and concluded that with the proper instruction, they could lead fullfilling lives and have successful careers. She has a long and impressive academic record and is a former faculty member at Hood College in Frederick.
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June 29, 2000: Roy Larkin Stamper

Roy Larkin Stamper Roy Larkin Stamper

Roy Larkin Stamper is 103 and still lives on the land his father bought in former Indian Territory. Today, it's the Stamper Quarter Horse Ranch, near Locust Grove, Oklahoma. In his long and exciting life, "RL" has raised cattle, broke horses, moved hourses, worked in the oil fields and in coal mines. Since the early 1930s, he's also preached at revivals and he's travelled all over the west as a "fisherman for souls."
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Listen to Roy Larkin Stamper's ObitListen to Roy Larkin Stamper's Obit from Morning Edition


May 25, 2000: Ruth Ellis

Ruth Ellis Ruth Ellis

When we met Ruth Ellis, she was living alone in downtown Detroit, Michigan. She had no family left, and she never had children. But when asked what were the best years of her life, Ruth Ellis quickly replied, "Senior citizen years!" Most of us dread being old and alone, but for Ruth, the last 20 years of her life were the most fulfilling. Listen here to the remarkable story of Ruth Ellis.
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Sadly, Ruth Ellis passed away on October fifth. Her friend, Sarah Uhle, who is also heard in the profile, says Ruth drifted off in her sleep after a brief illness. If you would like more information about Ruth's life and her memorial service, go to this site: http://www-lib.usc.edu/~retter/ruthmain.html

Ruth Ellis is also the subject of a documentary film called Living with Pride: Ruth Ellis @100, produced by Yvonne Welbon. You can learn more about Ruth's life and the film by visting the Web site, www.sistersinthelife.com.


April 27, 2000: Sadie and Gilbert Hill

Harry Shapiro, age 100 Sadie and Gilbert Hill,
both age 100.

Sadie and Gilbert Hill are both 100 years old and they were married in 1920. Researchers at Harvard University's New England Centenarian Study say the chances of a married couple both reaching that age are one in 6 million. Sadie and Gilbert say they aren't sure how they accomplished this, but part of the answer might lie in the fact that they still go dancing together.
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Hear Gilbert Hill describe a sleighing accident that he was in one night on his way home after a date with Sadie. This story was not part of the Morning Edition broadcast and is only available online.
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March 30, 2000: Harry Shapiro

Harry Shapiro, age 100 Harry Shapiro, age 100.

Harry Shapiro was a commercial artist for 50 years, working for catalogue companies like Sears and Montgomery Ward in New York. But ever since he was 20 years old, Harry's passion has been painting. Through most of the 20th century he studied the great masters and painted in his off hours, on vacations and weekends. Now that he's 100, Harry has time to paint whenever he wants, and he does so with urgency. He paints in order to "leave his mark" and "make a whole out of visual and spiritual experiences." He believes that he has only a few years left to "sum it up with some decent painting" and say "Shapiro was here."
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Anna Wilmot at 102 Anna Wilmot, age 102,
and photos from her life.

February 24, 2000: Anna Wilmot
Anna Wilmot lives alone on a small lake in western Massachussetts. She says she does everything she wants to do, including driving her own car. Anna has been alone for 30 years, since her husband died. She has a standing offer to move in with her son in California, and although Anna loves him very much ("He's a good son," she says), she has chosen to stay in her own home, where she says she feels secure and happy.
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