What is the secret to a long and healthy life? We recently met three older dynamos who are all considered “elderly” based solely on age, but one meeting with each of them proves that age really is just a number. In fact, they defy the stereotypes of the aged and instead pursue their art, creating things either for themselves or for sale. We’re thrilled to introduce you to these three amazing locals!
Marcia Guthrie first learned how to use a needle and thread from her father, who was in the Navy. He was a master at knots and taught her how to knit. She’s knitted, done needlepoint and sewn ever since. Marcia retired in 1998 and moved to the mountains of North Carolina with her husband. Not knowing anyone in her new community, she noticed that quilting bees were a great social connector there. She took a part-time job at the quilting shop, learned how to quilt and then joined the quilting bee. Now living in Louisville, she hasn’t stopped quilting since.
But that’s not all Marcia does. She loves to paint, especially with watercolors, and has framed pieces throughout her home. Marcia does not sell her work, though, preferring instead to gift it to family and friends. She stays very active, playing golf and getting her steps in daily, even wearing a hot pink Fitbit.
Her advice for a long, healthy life: “Do as much as you can of something you enjoy doing, and don’t put off things for too long.”
In Germany, woodworking is revered. It’s a trade that is only passed on to family members, so if you are not part of the family, you can only apprentice, never able to become a master woodworker. Such was the case with Herb. He apprenticed in his native country of Germany, but he became a painter as his full-time career. Later moving to New York, Herb met and married Patricia, his wife of more than 50 years, and was a home and commercial painter. Since his retirement in 1998, he has gone back to woodworking full time. He makes his home in Buckner, and his specialty is walking sticks, made from beautiful tree branches. He also makes lamps, bottle openers, children’s toys and “attitude adjusters.”
Beyond the wood, Herb loves home projects, having recently finished the basement in his home all by himself … that’s no small task for an 80-year-old. He cooks meals each day and takes walks in the woods to look for future walking sticks. Herb is also an avid skier, which is actually how he and his wife met. Every year, they go skiing in Vermont, which he claims is much easier than skiing the Alps, as he did as a child. A true German, Herb drinks a beer every day at lunch.
Because not having anything to do drives him crazy, Herb keeps constantly busy with new projects. While he used to sell his work occasionally at farmers markets, it’s now only available by contacting him directly at (502) 225-4837.
His advice for a long, healthy life: “You can do a lot more than you think you can.”
Cigar smoking and knife handling are not usually what folks consider the secrets to longevity, but there are exceptions to every rule. Such is the case with 80-year-old Gil Hibben, the country’s preeminent knife maker. When we met him, he was teaching a weeklong “camp” to seven men who came in from all over the country to his workshop in La Grange. He has made knives used in such action movies as Rambo III and The Expendables, and he considers Sylvester Stallone a friend. Hailing from Wyoming, he learned how to make knives when he couldn’t afford to buy his own Bowie knife. More than 50 years later, he’s still at the top of his game, and the men at his camp revere him like a god.
Though his knives retail for more than $1,000 each, when asked if he would have had any other career, he shocked us by telling us he was a trained opera singer. He loves opera and loves to sing. While he’s not necessarily headlining any opera performances, you CAN purchase one of his knives at www.hibbenknives.com.
His advice for a long, healthy life: “Marry the right girl, and do what you love.” Seems simple enough.
It appears that the fountain of youth is not a pill or a serum. It’s creativity. It’s productivity. It’s keeping an active mind. Continuing what you love to do—or even finding it late in life—keeps the mind and the body healthy and active, which, in turn, keeps a person young at heart, like our friends featured today!
Thank you to SB Intern Shelby Stickler, who contributed photographs and content to this article. We welcome her to our team for the summer.