Staying social is one important key to longevity. That’s what Rutherfordton resident Fern Mohr says.
Mohr celebrated her 99th birthday Friday, Feb. 19. Even at her age, she continues to be an active participant at the Rutherford County Senior Center. She drives herself to the center in Spindale every weekday for a carry-out lunch.
“The meals are delicious,” she said. “Often I have enough left over for supper.”
Mohr has been a Senior Center participant for more than 30 years. She began going with her late husband Dave Mohr.
“We made a lot of friends there,” she said. “We would play the card game Rook with some other couples. And we sometimes shot pool, which I loved.”
Dave taught her to play pool at the Senior Center. Fern became good at it, and even competed in pool at the state Senior Games.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Senior Center has been closed for regular activities. It provides carry-out meals and limited outdoor activities when the weather is warm.
“I look forward to when we can all come back together,” Fern said.
She is originally from Michigan. She and her husband also lived at various times in Colorado and Florida. They ultimately chose North Carolina for their retirement home.
“We wanted to garden,” Fern said. “We thought North Carolina would be a better place for us to have a garden. We first went to Hendersonville, and a man said we should check out Rutherford County. We came to Rutherfordton and loved it. We loved growing things like okra, lettuce, corn, radishes, potatoes, melons. We enjoyed eating fresh healthy food.”
Fern has visited many places, and has no regrets about putting down roots in Rutherford County 40 years ago. Not long after she and Dave married, they moved out west, and began working at a “dude” range. They eventually managed two different dude ranches.
The couple later moved to Florida, where some family members were living.
“I have enjoyed living in different places. And visiting beautiful places like Switzerland, Sweden, and Germany.” Fern said. “I still remember the beautiful windmills and tulips of Holland.”
Fern is a sociable person, and enjoys talking with her friends from the Senior Center.
“Fern is simply precious,” said Barbara Hill, senior center program manager. “It has been my pleasure getting to know her. We think of Fern as one of the family.”
She describes Fern as soft spoken with a good sense of humor.
“Everyone here just loves her,” she said.
Tammy Aldridge, senior center director, said: “Fern is smart, witty, and always polished.”
According to Aldridge, Fern is the oldest currently active Senior Center participant, though there are three others, ages 99, 100, and 101, who receive home-delivered Senior Center meals.
“Fern is amazing,” Aldridge said.
Asked if she had missed many days of lunch pick-ups due to the rainy weather, Fern responded “I’m from Michigan. We know how to drive in bad weather.”
Throughout her life, Fern says she never consumed alcohol, or smoked a cigarette. And she makes the effort to eat healthy. She sees her doctor regularly, and is essentially in good health.
Experts say social connections are vital to good health and longevity. The Senior Center provides the vehicle for social connections, for Fern and many others.
“The Senior Center has been very important to me,” Fern said. “I don’t know what I would have done without it. I have made such good friends there.”