Human beings are living longer than ever before … into their 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond. Since the start of the 20th century, we have increased life expectancy in the United States from just 49 in 1900 to 79 today.
While genetics play a major role in determining which of us will make it into the “over 90 crowd,” plenty of other factors go into healthy and successful aging.
It’s true that every day “on island” is a good day, but something extraordinary is happening here on Boca Grande. We asked Boca Grande’s nonagenarians and those approaching their nineties: what are the secrets of living a long, meaningful life?
Episode 5: Robert (Bob) Fletcher
April 2023 – After the passing of his parents, Robert (Bob) Fletcher, 91, took over the family’s small piano and organ business in the 1970s – back when mall king Edward DeBartolo Sr. was bringing his indoor shopping centers to Florida. Bob opened Fletcher Music as a general music store in Florida’s first mall and quickly focused on selling organs to the retirees of St. Petersburg. That became his business model. If there was a mall, there was bound to be a Fletcher Music store – 42 of them, in fact – in Florida, Arizona, Nevada and the Carolinas.
These days you’re more apt to find Bob enjoying retirement on the tennis court or riding his recumbent bike around the Island – two pastimes that help keep him healthy and happy.
Bob hesitates in offering health advice, “What works for one person may not work for another,” he says. But having lots of friends and living in Boca Grande certainly contributes to his longevity. Change is always at play in life, and on the Island. One of the biggest – and according to Bob, the most beneficial – was the building of the Boca Grande Health Clinic. He credits his ongoing health to the care he and his family have been provided by what Bob calls “the best crew that we’ve ever had” at the Clinic.
Episode 4: Jane Fletcher Geniesse
March 2023 – Staying active – body and mind – may not be the “best kept secret” to longevity, but it certainly works for Jane Fletcher Geniesse, 87, former reporter with the New York Times and author of two biographies and a novel.
A friend of Jane’s once told her that life can be like walking through a minefield, but Jane disagrees and instead intends to keep living life to its fullest. “A sedentary life is not a healthy life” is a mantra she takes seriously.
Jane surrounds herself with the love of her children and grandchildren. She credits her positive outlook in part to the wisdom she has acquired from her vast life experiences and to always being curious. When she’s not traveling the globe, Jane finds adventure at home visiting with friends, swimming and walking with her best companion, her dog Linus.
Episode 3: Robert McKinney
April 2022 – Robert (Bob) McKinney, WWII veteran, engineer, attorney, banker, political operative, husband, and father. Bob never met a challenge he couldn’t conquer, as proven by a lifetime of business success as chairman and CEO of two public companies and founder of a prestigious law practice. At 96, he continues to serve on boards, including at Indiana University (where the law school carries his name) and the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation.
Episode 2: Edith Gardner
April 2022 – At 97 years young, Edith (Edie) Gardner’s busy days keep her engaged and in constant motion. As a former RN, she understands the importance of healthy eating and keeping fit. She practices her “To rest is to rust” mantra by starting each day with a walk on the beach with her cherished dog.
Episode 1: John Hillenbrand
April 2022 – John Hillebrand, 90, reflects on the importance of staying active and making sure you have something to look forward to every day. And he reminds us that “Life is what you make it!”