Every Day’s a Good Day

I learned about 99-year old Roy Anderson from a local librarian who described him as insatiable for books. Dapperly dressed in a bright-colored shirt and knitted vest, the nonagenarian retired school teacher and administrator gives me a warm handshake when we meet at his Hyde Park retirement home.

As Roy begins recounting his life, he demonstrates a remarkable recall for the details of his past, from toddler years on. He has recently published a book (available at the library) chronicling his “first hundred years.”

At 99 Roy says he feels the same as he did at 50. “I try to keep my mind active,” he explains. “I never let loose of trying to figure out what life is all about and what makes people tick.”

For thirty-five years, Roy’s favorite expression has been “All right!” A Bengals rookie, Paul Robinson, receiving recognition for his achievements, had replied with these brief enthusiastic words. Roy took this encounter as a lesson about the importance of communicating goodwill with as few words as possible.

In 2007, at his daughter’s suggestion, he compiled a series of stories about his life into a book. My First One Hundred Years: 1907-2007 is a testament to Roy’s phenomenal memory as he delves into every detail of his upbringing and his formative years as well as recent times. He also enumerates twelve “learned concepts” acquired during his lifetime. Paramount is his realization that learning is only half the story; the other half consists of promoting emotional growth and a purposeful life.

Roy is most satisfied when he does something well – it could be as basic as digging a ditch, as long as it is well done he is content. He remembers back to his teaching days: “I wanted kids in school to leave each afternoon feeling that they learned something, that they had a good day.” Indeed he has always believed that every day is a good day and that he will get some satisfaction out of each waking moment.

Although he has a famous ancestor, John Alden, a bartender on the Mayflower, Roy is not much on researching genealogy. “No matter who my ancestors were, I never knew them,” he says. “What’s important are the people I’ve actually known in my life.”

He continues to be devoted to his early passions: reading, discussing, and learning. His schedule is filled with regular get-togethers, whether it be a long-standing weekly breakfast with ten male friends or his monthly bridge group. He visits Withrow High School for reunions and at the time of our meeting was looking forward to his upcoming 100th birthday party arranged by his “guardian angel,” daughter Helena. He eagerly anticipated the gathering of a hundred guests that was to include family, fellow bridge players, and his retirement community friends.

Roy believes that he has learned more about life in his last thirty years of retirement than in all the years before that. “Too soon old and too late smart,” he surmises.

[Sadly, Roy Anderson died in August, 2008 at age 100.]

Roy Anderson