What do you get a guy on his 100th birthday?

When you’ve lived a century (or more), there’s not a lot you need. There I go painting with a broad brush, but in my experience with centenarians, I’ve found most have the art of living down to a fine science that requires few material trappings.

Oh, sure, there are always folks like centenarian Seahawks fan Alice Schindler, who might like a 12th man jersey in the team’s new colors, to prove me wrong. But most of the centenarians I’ve met are pretty content with the basics: food, fun, family (including caregivers, who often count as extended family), and the bliss of as many afternoon naps as they damn well please.

Earlier this week, we got an email from Rosheil Periquet Che, asking if we’d publish notice of her grandfather’s 100th birthday. Felicisimo Buen of Port Orchard, born in the Philippines, served in the U.S. Merchant Marine and grew berries on a South Kitsap farm much of his life. “Felix” and his late wife Elnora had no biological children, but were grandparents to Che and her cousins. Buen was, “the only living grandfather in my life, helped raise me since 3 months old, and has given me a lifetime of memories growing up in his farm, which served as a playground for my cousins and me,” Che said.

Buen, who farmed into his late 80s, turns 100 on Sunday. His family attributes his strong constitution to his habit of eating the same breakfast meal each day, consisting of a mug of hot water, one hard boiled egg, and a piece of toast.

“I find that nothing can be purchased for this special occasion to show my appreciation and love,” said Che, who asked where and how the story of her grandfather’s life could be published in the Kitsap Sun. (Stay tuned for instructions.)

We get a surprising number of inquiries about people turning 100, and there are more joining the centenarian club all the time it seems. According to a 2011 report from the U.S. Census, there were
53,364 centenarians in 2010, a 5.8 percent increase from 2000. Of the total U.S. population in 2010, 1 out of every 5,786 people was a centenarian; 82.8 percent were female; only 32.3 percent lived in skilled care facilities. Meaning about two-thirds of the 100+ population remain relatively independent.

So many Kitsap residents now reach 100, that we don’t do feature-length stories on all of them. We did write about Emma Otis, a “supercentenarian” who turned 110 last October. And two years ago, we wrote about then-nearly-99-year-old Angy Parrish. Parrish’s claim to fame? She was, at least at that time, still square dancing.

But your special centenarian need not be a “super” or have a schtick, like Parrish, to get the attention he or she deserves. There are two ways to publish their amazing life stories.

Although we don’t yet have a special form for 100-year-olds, you can fill out the online submission wedding announcement form with your centenarian’s life and birthday information. We’ll make sure the item reads correctly. Like all our announcements, you can submit a certain number of words for free and will be charged for longer items. The form allows you to see the charges before you submit, so you can shorten it if you need to. Find the form under the “submit” Tab on the Kitsap Sun homepage, www.kitsapsun.com.

Alternately or in addition, you can submit a free “Your News” item. Scroll down the Kitsap Sun home page; find “Your News” and “submit.” You will need to create a profile/account with the Kitsap Sun.

If you need any help, call me.
Chris Henry
Kitsap Sun
(360) 792-9219

Happy birthday Felix. Here’s more from Ms. Che:

“Felicisimo Buen, who is known as Felix by his friends and family, was an immigrant from the Philippines. Residing in Port Orchard, Washington after retiring from the US Merchant Marines, he purchased his home and farm land in the 1940’s, producing raspberries, blueberries, apples, grapes, blackberries, plums, and strawberries that were sold locally and also at the local farmer’s market.

“Felix’s his wife of 26 years, Elnora N. Buen, passed away in 2010. Though they did not conceive children of their own because they married later in life, they were actively involved in the upbringing of their grand-nieces and -nephews, whom they considered to be their own grandchildren. Together, they lived a quiet, simple life, but never alone with family living in the same neighborhood and in close by towns.

“Nothing could come between him and his work; there was always something to be done around such a vast property. Felix never wanted to stop on his farm until he was finally physically unable to
do so his late 80’s. We credit to his long life due to his constant repetition of habits and exercise, whether it was working in the fields from dawn until sunset, or eating the same breakfast meal consisting of a mug of hot water, one hard boiled egg, and a piece of toast. He now resides in the care of his niece, Sheila Periquet, at her adult care home, which is conveniently just a walk away from the farm.

“Though things are foggy in memory, and he does not have much to say nowadays, there are two facts he seems to know for certain: 1. The recognition of his grandchildren. His face lights up to greet me on my visits as ‘little girl’ (though I am now quite grown). 2. That his farm is ‘over there,’ just beyond a few trees and down a dirt road.”

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