If you want a role model of a life well-lived, you can’t do any better than following Arthur Haas’ example. On February 19th, the congregation of Christ Lutheran Church in Brooksville feted Arthur with a party to celebrate his 100th birthday. On hand were members of the church, as well as his daughter and son-in-law, Holly and Greg LaMont, and friends.
Arthur entered the room wearing a handsome navy blue suit and striped tie and sporting a ribbon on his lapel that read “Ageless Wonder.” There were balloons and other decorations and, of course, a cake saying, “God Bless Arthur on your 100th year.”
The centenarian was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on February 15, 1923. His father was a bookkeeper at a large company. Arthur had two sisters. His parents were generous and often took in people to live with them. One in particular, Joe, a few years older than him, Arthur describes as “the only brother I had.”
As a child, Arthur enjoyed baseball and ice skating. As far as what his favorite subjects were in school, Arthur quips, “I was bad at all of them.”
In 1943, he left Cleveland to join the army. Arthur was stationed at a military hospital in England, where he worked as a medic and a clerk.
When asked to relate some memorable experiences while serving in the army, you’d expect to hear “war stories.” For Arthur, one of his most memorable experiences during that period of his life was marrying his wife, Lillian, in 1943. Another memorable experience was getting to spend some leave time with his “brother,” Joe. His friend was also in the military and was transferred from Iceland to England. The two got together and took a trip to Scotland. I’m sure they had some adventures!
When Arthur got out of the army in 1946, he went back to his old job working in an office of the railroad for eleven years. Then he went to work for a dairy, delivering products to homes and businesses. Lillian and Arthur had three children−Holly, Diane, and Arthur, Jr.
His daughter, Holly, describes her parents as perfect role models. “He lived a simple life. My father raised me in religion, and I’m so grateful for that. I never saw my parents fight. I’m sure they did, but I never saw it.”
Besides his deep faith, Holly also mentions her father’s sense of humor. “He’s the master of the one-liner,” she remarks.
Arthur displayed this quality throughout my conversation with him. For example, when I asked what he enjoyed doing, he quipped, “I like to read and eat. I never found a food I didn’t like. I’ve been active all my life. When I retired, I started playing golf. I played every day that ended in a ‘y’.”
Lillian and Arthur started vacationing in Florida and would often bring his parents with them. After a few years of being snowbirds, the couple decided to settle in Brooksville, and they became full-time residents in 1988. Betty Ellinghuysen, a member of Christ Lutheran Church, has known Arthur for thirty years. “He has always been outgoing and friendly,” Betty remarks.
Sharon Kostner, another church member, marvels at his energy. “He’s ‘with the program.’ His mind is sharp.”
Arthur has seen many changes throughout his long life. “You name something, and it’s changed. When I was a child, whenever a plane flew over the house, we’d run outside to see it. They were an oddity. We had as many horses going up and down the street as automobiles.”
When you meet someone like Arthur, who has lived to be 100, you want to learn the secret to his longevity. Perhaps the most important is gratitude.
“God blessed me every day of my life. Also, I inherited my parents’ genes. My father lived to be eighty-eight, and my mother lived to ninety-one.”
Every morning Arthur does a crossword puzzle and three Sudoku puzzles. He also does the dishes and makes the bed every day, and takes full care of himself. Sometimes he fixes breakfast.
Arthur Haas is truly an “ageless wonder” and an example to everyone−young and old.”