Joining John Hart Sr. at his 110th birthday celebration at the DAV Hall in Portland, Ore., are his wife, Geraldine (from left), Christina Forbes, great-granddaughter, Precious Baker, great-great-granddaughter, and Rosetta Forbes, his granddaughter.
Man Celebrates Like A Champ; With A (Video King) Champ!
This could be one for the Guinness Book of World Records. Put down your I-Pads and cellular devices for a moment ...
He was born the year the tractor was invented, Wilbur Wright made his first flight, the ice cream cone, hot dog, X-ray machine, electrical plug and wall socket made their debut at the St. Louis World's Fair, a U.S. stamp cost a mere 2 cents, and police were trying a new investigation method – fingerprints.
The year was 1904, and earlier this summer he celebrated his 110th birthday, playing Bingo on none other than Video King's Champion II gaming tablet at the DAV Hall in Portland, Ore.
He is the oldest person known to play Bingo, 'least for Video King, among the world's largest providers of electronic gaming systems, game designs, digital signage and Bingo hall equipment.
He is John Hart Sr., guest of honor at a Bingo party, a gift to him from Donna Tichenor, manager of the Mount Hood Ski Education Foundation.
Governing body of the Mount Hood Academy and Mount Hood Race Team, the foundation was established in 1983 by local supporters, with one goal: To provide excellence in ski training and education for amateur skiers on Mount Hood.
The foundation has been raising funds to support its year-round programs through Bingo since 1989 and at the DAV since 2011, she said.
But you may ask, what's the connection. No, he's not part of the ski team, nor an instructor, but the man, who has managed to keep his wits about him, does deserve a medal, least for strength and stamina.
Believe it or not, he still mows his own lawn and moves along fine, with just a little assist from a cane.
Tichenor just happened to be watching a story about his remarkable longevity on TV and recognized his granddaughter, Rosetta Forbes, who was part of the telecast.
Undoubtedly moved, she decided to throw him a party at the DAV Hall – but that was so last year ... when he was 109. She wanted to throw him another celebration for his 110th.
In addition to raising the prizes once again, decorating the hall, inviting family and friends, springing for a hat, fake bling and cake for everyone, she also gave him $110 of play – to commemorate his number of birthday years.
Why, you may ask.
“I just love this man,” said Tichenor, who had staged a similar party for another centenarian in the past. But she was much younger. She was 101 – no small feat in itself.
“He's just a marvelous man,” she said, amazed like most who have met him. “The place went crazy. He doesn't look 110 ... his hair is still black,” she said of the elderly gent's quite dapper appearance.
So, what's his secret, and how does he feel this life of his turned out.
For answers, we asked his granddaughter to convey some of our, well, rather age-old questions, and to tell us about himself.
Forbes, who has also honored him with several birthday celebrations of her own, is among the people who know him best
“When I begin this journey a few years ago, I didn't look at this party as being something that was going to be very costly, which it is every year, but it's OK. All because he is the root to our family, and I love him so much. He means the world to me. We are very close,” she said.
So let's just journey back in time and reminisce a bit ...
Born on May 22, 1904, in Sandy Hook, Miss., Hart is the youngest of 15 children, and is the last one living.
He was married to his first wife, until her death, for 58 years. Together they had four children, two boys and two girls, and adopted a son, when the child was very young. Of their five children, four are alive today, Forbes said.
Remarried, Hart is now a resident of Portland, Ore. In all, he has 21 grandchildren, 63 great-grandchildren, 51 great-great grandchildren, six or more great-great-great-grandchildren and a niece, living in Haiti, according to the family's best recollections.
During his life, he worked on the railroad for two years in Mississippi and the school district as a janitor for 12 years. “He never missed a day of work, while working for the school district,” Forbes said.
He also served in the Navy for two years. His duties included cleaning and moving trucks. “He made only $8 a month,” he told her.
Described as “kind, loving, soft-spoken, funny and caring,” his hobbies included hunting and fishing, family activities and attending church weekly.
As to his earliest memory: “Having to leave school and start working after only completing first grade.”
His favorite part of life: “Being married to a loving wife of over 50 years and having four beautiful kids.”
What he's most proud of: “Being able to live long enough to see a Black president.”
What he cherishes most: “His life and family.”
His advice to others: “To treat others the way you would want to be treated. Be loving and kind to one another. Love people like God loves you.”
What makes him happy or smile: “To be alive and to be around family.”
As to Bingo: “He used to play over 20 years ago with his (first) wife, before she passed away,” she said.
What does he wish for the world: “Peace and love.”
Are there things he still hopes to accomplish: “To be rich.”
Describe his typical day: “Cleaning up around the house, getting out of the house. He likes going to the store or visiting his children, watching TV, sitting in his swing on a nice day, and talking to his family,” she said.
As to those never-ending chores – like the lawn.
“Yes, he does his own yard sometimes. He says he can't just sit around all the time. He likes to keep busy sometimes,” she said.
His secret to longevity: “Getting plenty of rest, eating healthy. Never smoking or drinking,” he told her.
And, finally, how does it feel to be 110: “He says he is blessed to still be alive and doing well. He gives thanks to God for his life and wishes that everyone could learn to love one another as God loves us.”
Apparently, this type of kindness didn't skip any generations ...
Case in point, after the DAV celebration, Tichenor, who was invited to the family picnic in his honor, asked what she could bring. But there was no need, they cook plenty.
“They wanted to have enough food to feed everyone in the park. That's the kind of people they are,” she said, again deeply touched by their compassion.
Nor does it seem, you need to be family – as in Tichenor's case – to pass kindness on.
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Video King® is among the world’s largest providers of electronic gaming systems, game designs and bingo hall equipment. Reaching a global market, Video King’s entertainment systems can be found aboard luxury cruise liners, throughout Indian Country and in thousands of charitable, commercial and military establishments around the world.