Local Centenarians: A hundred reasons to celebrate

Published on: July 1, 2015

By LISA STARK

lisa stark photos / www.lisastark.com Gladys Fracassi enjoys riding around the community on the golf cart, keeping her exercise ball close at hand. Lisa Stark photos.

Gladys Fracassi enjoys riding around the community on the golf cart, keeping her exercise ball close at hand. Lisa Stark photos.

If charm and humor increase with age, it would explain the  demeanor of two of SCC’s most delightful residents: Gladys Fracassi, who turned 103 last month; and Cliff Beaumont, who, four days later, celebrated his 100th birthday on June 23rd.  Both have received letters from President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama congratulating them for reaching this milestone  and thanking them for their “contributions to the American Story.”

Centenarians (persons who live to or beyond age 100) traditionally receive a letter from the President and from the governor of their home state.  NBC’s Today Show has also named new centenarians on air since 1983.

According to a CNN report in 2014, the U.S. has the greatest number of known centenarians of any nation, and the number of people 100 or older has more than doubled every decade since the 1950s.

Gladys Fracassi

Gladys Fracassi, a resident of Pacifica Senior Living in Sun City Center, said one of the secrets to her longevity is keeping active.

She gets up each morning at 5:30 a.m. to beat the rush for breakfast in the dining room, then walks around the community to keep in shape, ending up at the gazebo by the lake for a little quiet reflection.

Her favorite song is “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” which, she said, reminds her about the meaning of life. “Life is about ups and downs. Some days the sun will be shining, and some days not. I just try to remember the rainbow,” she said.

A New Jersey native, Fracassi said she has always been a lover of the sun and the beach. She reminisced about her days along the Boardwalk of Atlantic City, where she would take her two children to ride the Ferris wheel and buy cotton candy.

“I love listening to good music and dancing,” said Fracassi, who spent her earlier days doing just that. “For a nickel, you could go dancing along the Boardwalk,” she said. “It was my favorite thing to do.”

These days, Fracassi enjoys simple pleasures like riding around on the golf cart with her hand-held exercise ball, which she uses to combat arthritis.

“I had a good life, not based on money,” she said. “I grew up on a farm and used to deliver milk to the milkman from a horse-drawn wagon. Those were the days.”

Then she laughed and said: “Maybe I shouldn’t tell that; people will know how old I am.”

Glady’s 103rd birthday was celebrated June 19th at Pacifica with decorations, cake and ice cream, and musical entertainment. She was excited that relatives were coming from as far away as New Jersey and Vermont to help her celebrate.

Cliff Beaumont has been a resident of SCC since 1965.

Cliff Beaumont has been a resident of SCC since 1965.

Clifford Beaumont

Clifford Beaumont, a resident of Cypress Creek Assisted Living, turned 100 June 23rd. He still owns his house in Sun City Center, which he purchased in 1965 with Grace, his beloved wife of 76 years who passed away three years ago.

Asked to reveal the secret of success for his long and happy marriage, he said simply: “We just loved each other and got along well together. We also have three lovely daughters, five granddaughters and nine great-grandchildren.”

He laughed and said: “People around here say I’m sharp as a tack. I don’t know about all that, but I do like to stay active and converse with people, and I also like to work.”

He showed off a stack of personalized greeting cards, which he creates monthly on his iMac computer for every Pacifica resident celebrating a birthday. “This is my job around here; everyone expects it of me,” he said.

Beaumont retired in 1966 from his very successful grain feed supply business in upstate New York and immediately seized the opportunity to kick back and enjoy the good life in Florida with his wife, Grace.

“We had enough money” he said, “and, of course, we enjoyed traveling and the beach and all. But my wife always said I was a workaholic, because I would work day and night and sometimes wouldn’t even go to bed. Some things just don’t change.”

Vintage photo of Beaumont with his wife of 76 years, Grace.

Vintage photo of Beaumont with his wife of 76 years, Grace.

After settling into their home in SCC, which they bought in 1965, Beaumont began traveling around town with a toolbox on his golf cart, building up a reputation as a fix-it man.

“Everyone called upon me to fix their leaky faucets, electrical outlets, odd jobs like that,” he said. “My phone never stopped ringing.”

His wife stayed very active as well, becoming deeply involved in SCC’s community activities and with their church, Trinity Baptist.

Throughout his century of living, Beaumont’s business acumen never left him. He spoke fondly about his profitable days with Agway, which supplied grain and dairy feed for cattle in western upstate New York.

To his credit are a list of “firsts,” including building the first bulk fertilizer conveyers in the U.S.; engineering the first concrete borders in 1970 to enclose the shrub areas of SCC; and organizing the first SCC Gideon camp in 1978.

Aerial view of Clifford Beaumont's grain and feed business in western upstate New York.

Aerial view of Clifford Beaumont’s grain and feed business in western upstate New York.

Being a resident of SCC for 50 years, Beaumont is a treasure-trove of interesting stories about the area and how it has grown and changed in half a decade. When asked if he still considers himself a workaholic, he grinned and said, “In my mind I still am. I like to stay busy and keep up on the news.”  He was joined by his family from the North to celebrate his 100 years, which he said have been “joyful, fulfilling, and very, very busy.”

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