Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Questions for a 99-Year Old

This past Monday I had a remarkable guest on my TV show.  His name is Art White, and he's turning 99 this coming Friday.  Somehow Art has managed to outlive the vast majority of his peers and stay astonishingly active.  Since retiring at age 95 from his third career, he still bowls twice a week, does Tai Chi once a week, plays bridge four times a week, eats anything he wants and takes no pills--not even vitamins.  He's aiming to be 110.

To prepare for the interview, I went on Facebook and asked my "friends" to post questions for Art.  I heard from people all over the U.S.  I even got a reply from a woman in London, England.  Most of the respondents are middle-aged, but one is in her twenties and two are in their seventies.

Next week I'll relay some of Art's answers, but first I thought it would be interesting to pass along the questions and give you a chance to answer them yourself.  If you keep a journal, you might consider addressing one a day.  Why wait until you're 99?

  • Elizabeth H:  What excites you?
  • Kiana W:  In your 100 years, what has been one of the most memorable media events that has impacted you personally?  What era did you find most appealing and why?   If you could give a younger you any advice that would have helped you out later on in life, what would you have said?
  • Randy B:  Who were your heroes growing up?
  • Patricia S:  What surprises you any more?
  • Laurel P:  How does one live fully and with joy at your age--without wondering every minute how much longer you've got and being focused on the losses?
  • Paula R:  Laurel's question is the one I'd love to hear the answer to.
  • Saundra C:  Instead of asking him, "What has changed in all these years?" ask him, "What has not changed?  What has stayed the same?"
  • Chris H:  What do you hope for?
  • Sean S:  I like asking people about their memories of the presidents. My grandmother, for example, was a cub reporter for a Pittsburgh paper and actually got to ask John Kennedy a question at a rally.  This person was born when Taft was president (unbelievable), so I bet you'll get something good.
  • Mary L:  I would not only love to hear about his memories (after all, he was there), but how far back did the elderly people in his early years remember back.  It was very thrilling for me when a lady I knew who was born in 1886 told me about a Civil War veteran she knew as a child.  And tell this Old Gent God Bless you for me.
  • Alix L:  We had an interesting conversation with my mom along these lines. "What invention in your lifetime most changed your day to day life?" And her response was "a refrigerator!"
  • Mary K:  How have you been blessed?
  • Mary K:  A couple more:  Who had the greatest influence on your life?  What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
  • Patsy G:  If you had one thing that you could do over, what would it be?
  • Howard C:  What is something you miss that you don't see any longer?
  • Diane H:  What is your fondest and most vivid memory from childhood?
  • Patrick M:  If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go and why?
  • Randy B:   What was your first car?  What music stayed with you all these years? What films were most memorable?  Did you serve in the military?
  • Caroline P:  If you could pick one day out of your life to relive, which would it be and why?
  • Rozanne G:  If you could pick one person from your life to speak to, who would that be and why?
  • Larry L:  If you had one question to ask God, what it would be?
  • Kim M:  Do you have anything left on your bucket list?
  • Robert E:  In all the advances you've seen in your lifetime, which is the most impressive? useful? culture- or history-changing?  Which one impacted you personally the most?
  • Jeff V:  Did you yourself ever know someone who has reached 100?  Which memory has stayed with you the longest?  Are we getting better as a country, or are you more concerned the future than you were in your youth?  What do you miss from the past that none of us are aware of?


  1. Wow. These are great questions. Recently I interviewed a 94 year old gentleman for a painting series I'm working on about peoples hopes and dreams. Having this kind of opportunity is such a privilege, isn't it.

  2. 99! That is amazing. I think a lot of people die because they just stop living.
    And when is your show on, Prill?

  3. I can't wait to hear the answers!! Frankie and I visit a local senior assisted facility once a month. There is a woman who just turned 99 and I love talking with her. And there is also a woman who is 104 and she is pure delight! I love her to bits... and when I am around her I feel such hope for life. Can't wait to read about Art.

  4. Missy Verderosa3:13 AM

    Hi Prill,
    I'm looking forward to reading this gentleman's answers. I have a wonderful friend who is a healthy and happy 94 years old. He lives in Florence, Italy and I've been blessed to be able to visit him every year for the last 4. I'm here right now and will try some of those questions on him. Incidentally, he just published his memoirs. I can't wait to read them (it??)!

  5. Thanks for all your comments! I've got another cool 99-year old to interview next month, a woman this time. Should be interesting. Diane, the show only airs locally here in Fairfield County, CT. My goal is to put short clips from each segment on YouTube, but I'm still learning how to finesse all the ins and outs of Final Cut Pro Express, which is the editing program my station uses.