PIQUA — If keeping a good sense of humor is one of the keys to longevity, Deloris Herbe has got that one nailed.
Deloris, who will celebrate her 100th birthday on Tuesday, April 23, joked recently about her milestone birthday, saying she “just keeps breathing.”
“It just came on naturally,” Deloris quipped about her long life. “It came on gradually.”
The centenarian moved to Piqua from Cincinnati in 2001 to be close to her only son, Jerry, his wife, Cheryl, and granddaughter, Maddie Schneider. She then moved to Piqua Manor Nursing Home in 2011.
Born in 1917, one of eight children — and the only surviving — Herbe said she has fond memories of growing up in Cincinnati, where her father was an iron molder. She remembers visits with family and friends, fairs and spending lots of time with her siblings.
The hot dog connoisseur remembers the advent of the radio — one of her all-time favorite technologies, she said.
“Before that, we more or less just had the phonograph,” said Deloris, a member of St. Clemons Church in St. Bernard. “The radio was just easy.”
An athletic standout in high school, Deloris was a runner and played volleyball and basketball. In the early 2000’s, she was named to the Athletic Hall of Fame at her alma mater, Roger Bacon High School in Cincinnati, where she also retired as a school secretary.
She also remembers the not-so-easy times, such as surviving the Great Depression.
Fortunately, Deloris’ father was able to work through the Great Depression, so her family did not suffer the consequences of the decade-long economic slump as much as others, she said. Her mother, a good cook, also quickly learned to stretch food resources during this time.
Deloris, who enjoys reading, said she hopes the U.S. never sees an event to that measure again.
“I just hope there will never be another,” Deloris said. “I wouldn’t want anyone to ever have to go through that again.”
Deloris, who lost her husband, Jerry Sr., in 1983, said the biggest blessing in her life has been her son, Jerry Jr. After 10 years of trying to have a child, she said they were about to give up when they found out she was pregnant.
“He was a model kid,” said Deloris, who at one time also worked for a realty and insurance office. “He never gave me any problems.”
Deloris, president of the PTA throughout Jerry’s childhood, remembers the family taking many great family vacations.
“We took a different route every year,” Deloris said of exploring the United States. “That was fun. We got to see the country.”
She also took vacations with her son and his family following her husband’s death, Jerry Herbe said.
A Reds fan, Deloris attended many games and counts Johnny Bench, Pete Rose and Johnny Vander Meer as her all-time favorite players.
“They are our hometown team,” said Deloris, a dog lover. “I loved it.”
“She was a good mom, the best I ever had,” said Jerry, showing he follows in Deloris’ footsteps in the humor category.
The 2015 Valentine’s Day Queen of Piqua Manor made up her own mind she would live to see 100, Cheryl Herbe said.
“Everyone always told her she had to make it to 100, but she decided herself after she turned 99 she wanted to make it to 100,” Cheryl Herbe said.
The milestone was celebrated on Sunday with a family birthday party at the nursing home with friends and family — some flying in from as far as Houston, Texas, to attend. Piqua Manor also will acknowledge Deloris’ birthday on Tuesday with yet another celebration of her life.
Deloris believes she is supposed to still be here — and plans to stick around.
“God’s just not ready for me,” she said.
Reach Melody Vallieu at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (937) 552-2131