In fine fettle
Those who live long, full lives into their 90s often face many questions about their secrets to longevity. For 97-year-old Bill Stewart, the answer is fitness.
"You've gotta keep moving," he says. "Or you'll die."
Bill and his wife Joyce, 86, have resided in Sandy for nearly 50 years, and they still maintain seven acres on Bluff Road.
Until recently, Bill and Joyce walked every day up and down Bluff Road, waving at everyone as they passed by. A bad hip put an end to that routine for Bill, but it hasn't kept them from becoming regular members of Mt. Hood Athletic Club.
Three times a week, the couple comes into the Sandy-based fitness center and ride the recumbent bicycles and do resistance training on machines downstairs.
"We just do a little bit, but a little bit seems to be enough," Joyce explains.
Besides making sure his body is healthy, Bill also gives his brain a workout with frequent reading.
Right now, he's working on an autobiography about Jimmy Carter's life.
Bill's love for reading stems from his childhood in northern Virginia. He couldn't afford to go to college after high school, so he enlisted in the Navy, but didn't let his education fall by the wayside.
Bill likes to read "anything that's true," so the tech library provided by the Navy proved to be one of his favorite places while he was in the military.
"The more you read, the more you learn," Bill says. "If you don't keep reading and keep your mind up, it gets stale. I got that habit from the military. They keep a record of everything going on. They had a tech library, so I made a policy to make sure everything was up-to-date."
Besides cataloging all of his squadron's goings-on, Bill took care of the instruments as a flight engineer in a five-person patrol plane.
"We never had any problems, but if we did, we'd have known what to do," he explains. "I don't take life too seriously. Nowadays, if I wake up in the morning, I'm moving."
Us at the USO
The Stewarts are well-known at the fitness club now. Joyce says Bill "never meets a stranger," because he instantly becomes friends with everyone. For that reason, Bill's long-time occupation as a postman fit him perfectly.
"I've always enjoyed talking to people — talking to and helping people however I can," Bill said.
One person Bill took a rather instant liking to was Joyce, about 66 years ago. Bill was stationed in Millington, Tenn., when the two met at a USO-hosted dance on the Memphis Queen paddle-wheeler.
"We both loved to dance," Joyce said. "I have a strong heart because he keeps me laughing. We were together from then on." Even though the couple doesn't dance much anymore, they do keep their bodies, and minds, in tip-top shape with regular exercise.
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