FARMINGTON, Maine — It’s not her diet or any intentional exercise that keeps Velma Pearson thriving at 107 years old.
“It’s her positive outlook, seeing something positive in every new day,” Sue Bell, administrator of Pinewood Terrace, suggested.
Pearson is from New Sharon and has lived at the assisted-living facility in Farmington since January 2012.
Alert and friendly, Pearson is the life of the Pinewood family, Bell said as the women share a chuckle when the “secret reason” for her longevity came up.
Everyday at 3 p.m., Pearson rolls her wheelchair to the dining room and asks, “‘where’s my drink?’” Bell said.
It’s not an energy drink but a rum and coke she’s looking for.
“There is no real secret,” Pearson said. “It just comes with life.”
Born Velma Hammond on Sept. 3, 1905, Pearson graduated from New Sharon High School in 1924 and married Herman Pearson, also of New Sharon. They were married 60 years before he died, she said. Their one daughter, Jane Browning, 88, also lives in New Sharon.
Browning has Pearson’s birth certificate listing her birth in 1905.
“I’ve had a good life; a common, everyday life. I didn’t have to work too hard,” Pearson said. “I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to.”
Longevity doesn’t necessarily run in her family. Her father died in his 60s, she said. Her mother lived longer. Her two brothers and her sister are deceased.
“It’s probably not the food,” Browning said of her mother’s long life. “Her favorite food is candy or anything sweet. It’s hard to get her to eat vegetables or much meat, a little chicken once in a while. She doesn’t like food.”
A petite woman, Pearson likes people and likes to talk but won’t initiate a conversation, Browning said. The effort is hampered now, mostly by hearing and sight issues.
“She’s a lot of fun, though” Browning said. “She cruises the hallways. I never know where I’ll find her.”
Pearson maneuvers her wheelchair often on her own. Soon after rising in the morning till quite late in the evening, she’s always out mingling with the other residents and staff. She’s never in her room, Bell said.
“She never feels the need to take a nap,” she said.
Bell described her as the life of the party. During a recent music time, Pearson said she wanted to dance and she did, wheeling her chair to the music and dancing with the staff.
Pearson loved to dance and loves music. She played the piano for a traveling drama group that would bring plays and silent movies to New Sharon in the 1920s, Browning said.
She also loved to play cards, shopping and collecting glassware, Browning said.
“She is as spunky and sharp as they come. She is nothing short of amazing and keeps us in stitches all the time,” Bell said.
Pearson did work for an optometrist in Madison, arranged flowers at Riverside Greenhouse in Farmington and worked for some of the local canning factories, Browning said.
The Pearsons also ran a “tea room” in a small building on their front lawn, mostly serving lunches in the summer, Browning explained.
“She’s very humble and doesn’t talk about herself,” Bell said. “She’s one of the sharpest people I know but she does have a mind of her own.”
Pearson never complains about anything, Bell added. She’s pretty healthy and attends the facility’s exercise class.
Browning agreed that her mother does very well.
“It was hard to let her go,” Browning said of her own health issues that necessitated Pearson’s move to Pinewood.
“In a couple years, there’ll be a 110th birthday party at Pinewood,” Bell teased Pearson.