Calgary veteran, former SAIT teacher celebrates 104th birthday: ‘I’m lucky to be here’
Balloons, banners and birthday cake were abound as a Calgary man celebrated his 104th bash over the weekend.
Clarence Hollingworth toasted the special occasion with his family and friends on Sunday.
He pointed to his cake, emblazoned with a photo of him at age 18.
“I was into photography and that was a selfie,” he said. “I was experimenting with my camera, nothing around there exciting, so I took a picture of myself and it turned out real good. And I had hair.”
Knowing how to survive is his key to longevity.
“First thing you got to do is keep out of mischief, damn it!” Hollingworth exclaimed.
“I try to [be good], but it’s easier to be a bad boy and more fun.
“You got to be little. You got to be able to not know how to fight… You got to be good. So that’s why I’m good. People would beat me up all the time; they’re big.”
He acknowledged that a worsening memory is part of senescence.
“If it wasn’t too good before you started, well, it’s hopeless by the time you get to 104,” he said.
‘Why they have wars, I’ll never know’
Hollingworth recalled his heyday of flying airplanes at age 23.
“The engine stopped on it one day,” he said. “And when I’m up 1,000 feet, because I was just taking off, there’s no place to go but down.”
He was able to find a space to land between a golf course, railroad tracks and Nose Creek.
“I landed that plane and never even scratched the paint on it,” he said. “How I did it scares me now.
“I’m lucky to be here.”
Hollingworth served in the Royal Canadian Navy in the submarine branch where he was a part of ASDIC (Anti-Submarine Detection Investigation Committee) during the Second World War.
“What I saw — I can’t understand why people fight,” he said. “It’s terrible.”
“I do enjoy life and I like to see people happy. Why they have wars, I’ll never know.”
‘Best father in the world’
Kathleen Nastiuk, Hollingworth’s youngest daughter, said her dad has always been an active guy.
“He’s the best father in the world… We’d always go fishing and he’d have to cart me across the streams,” she said of childhood camping trips.
Nastiuk said her father has a long relationship with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT).
“He lived across the street from SAIT when they were building it, so he crashed the party because he saw them laying the cornerstone,” she said.
Those were the building blocks of the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art (PITA) — now SAIT’s Heritage Hall — being laid down in 1921. According to the school, Hollingworth enrolled as an electrical student in 1933 and was hired as an instructor in the department in 1952. He taught there for 28 years.
For Hollingworth’s centennial in 2015, he was given an honourary science degree.
So, what’s the secret of making it to triple digits?
Nastiuk thinks it’s her father’s attitude and dry sense of humour that have helped him make it this far.
“He tries not to stress out about anything,” she said. “He’s always had a relaxed attitude, plus he’s an extremely smart man, so he’s always doing stuff.”
Nastiuk said her father keeps his mind active and works out logical problems — and loves playing on his laptop.
“He took up the computer when he was in his 80s,” she said.
“He so sharp and active in that way. He was riding a mountain bike up until his 90s.”
The centenarian has seen a lot over his lifetime.
“One of his favourite things to tell people is that he’s outlived 11 doctors,” Nastiuk said. “They all told him to take better care of himself.”
“One of his sayings is, ‘Getting old is not for sissies.’ You’ve got to be tough to get old and he is.”
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