Bob Myers, with daughter Lynne Caddell, celebrated his 100th birthday with friends and family at The Haven on Friday.

Tamera Manzanares/Courtesy

Bob Myers, with daughter Lynne Caddell, celebrated his 100th birthday with friends and family at The Haven on Friday.

Aging Well: Hayden centenarian celebrates with smiles, stories

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It's hard not to admire Bob Myers's quick and warm smile, which usually is accompanied by a chuckle.

Get to know Myers a bit more, and that smile is a glimpse into his patient, compassionate and light-hearted nature, which may be responsible, in part, for his remarkable longevity.

Myers celebrated his 100th birthday Friday in the bright community room of The Haven Assisted Living Center. He was surrounded by friends and family, including children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, friends and staff at The Haven and Hayden town officials.

A century past

Before honoring Myers with a giant cake and champagne toast, his son-in-law, Joe Caddell, of Steamboat Springs, reminded the crowd how much the world has changed since Myers took his first breath.

Around the year 1909, for example, less than 10 percent of Americans graduated from high school, the average wage was about 22 cents per hour and fewer than 50 people lived in Las Vegas.

Youthful memories shined brightly in Myers's mind as he shared stories about carefree summers spent at Lake Minnetonka, Minn., with his parents and siblings. The annual trips were respite from their home in Minneapolis.

There was never a shortage of things to do, whether it was hunting rabbits, spinning in the turbulent wake of large boats or swimming with the family's "borrowed" dog, which they picked up, and returned, each summer from the pound.

Nowadays, teenagers verse parents in the latest technology. Back then, Myers taught his father how to drive, a skill he learned from his friend Ralph, who drove his own father's fancy car during his father's jail stint - the result of selling liquor during Prohibition.

Myers earned $14 per week in his first job. It wasn't a lot, but it was enough to save from a burning car.

One day, while driving his father's Ford, Myers lost control, rolled and ended up in a ditch. When he crawled out of the car, he saw that part of it was on fire.

"Then I remembered my paycheck was in the pocket of my sweater in the car, so I climbed in, rescued it and got out real quick," he said laughing.

In 1927, Myers took to the skies, where he learned to fly biplanes across the Great Lakes during flight training for the Navy Reserve.

"I wanted to drop bombs on those nasty Nazis," he said.

Meanwhile, education was extremely important in Myers's family. Both his parents and his first wife, Gladys, had graduate degrees, and his father was a professor.

Myers graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1931 only to realize engineers were "a dime a dozen." So Myers headed back to school to study social work, receiving a master's degree from the University of Buffalo.

"That's always been part of his life - adapting to his surroundings," Myers's daughter Lynne Caddell.

Myers's career change not only inspired his passion for helping those less fortunate, especially children, but a change of heart in matters of violence and war.

"I wouldn't have dropped bombs on anybody," he said.

Myers compassion extended beyond his dedicated work in children's welfare and aid agencies. Following the Vietnam War, Myers opened his home to a Cambodian orphan who escaped the Khmer Rouge.

Lynne's mother Gladys died in 1987. Two years later, Myers married his second wife, Ginny, a woman he met while square dancing, a favorite activity.

The couple spent more than 10 happy years together before Ginny was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Bob nursed her through the illness until shortly before she died in 2004. At that point, he was ready to join Lynne, Joe and grandson David in Northwest Colorado.

A (still) active life

Myers has remained active since arriving at The Haven. He still types letters (his family recently convinced him to use an electric typewriter) and has made easy friends with Haven and Hayden residents.

"He's always the life of the party," said musician Greg Scott, who often entertains Haven residents and performed at Myers's party.

A nonsmoker, Myers was an avid swimmer until age 93 and still walks every day.

Genetics, apparently, also have been on Myers's side. His grandfather, who fought in the Civil War, lived to be 101. Myers's sister, Margery, is 97 and still living independently, and his brother, Everett, passed away last year at the age of 94.

So what, exactly, do you give a man who is 100 years old and has made such an endearing impression on his adopted home?

Hayden Mayor Lorraine Johnson, on behalf of the Hayden Town Board, presented Myers a certificate proclaiming March 6 as Bob Myers Day.

The Myers family had a special bench made for The Haven, so Myers and other Haven walkers will have a comfortable place to rest.

Given that Myers is exceptionally active and twice the minimum age requirement for Steamboat's Over the Hill Gang, he also received an honorary membership to that group.

Finally, Steamboat Ski & Resort President Chris Diamond, whose mother, coincidentally, once worked with Myers and is a longtime friend, presented him with a lifetime ski pass.

Myers may not be hitting the slopes any time soon, but his positive outlook, patience and determination are qualities people of all ages can take to heart.

"He's a role model for us all," remarked Alma Harris, a resident at The Haven. "Maybe I can have a party like this in eight years.

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