Celebrating a century

Two 100 birthdays in two weeks no coincidence; centenarians on the rise

Bill Coates

Bill Coates

Bill William Coates celebrated his 100th birthday last Wednesday, surrounded by family including his three remaining siblings.

While he uses a wheelchair and is deaf, his mind is sharp, said step-daughter Karen Lindsay.

“He beats me at crib,” she said.

Among those who honoured his landmark birthday was the prime minister and the Queen. His congratulatory note from Queen Elizabeth is one of 1,134 doled out this year so far.

It’s a number that grows every year, indicating that achieving centenarian status isn’t the feat it once was.

Just last month, Bill Noble of Cordova Bay hit the big three-digit birthday.

Remarkably, for a man who was born while Sir. Wilfrid Laurier was still prime minister of Canada, Noble lives independently with minimal home care support. Should he pass his renewal exam, Noble will also retain his driver’s licence and continue to drive to take his wife Kay out for dinner.

The former radio and phonograph salesman has a computer and still keeps up with the latest news in technology.

Noble shies away from dispensing any advice or words of wisdom on his long life.

“My mind is an enquiring mind,” he says. “I just know how darn lucky I am.”

To celebrate the big day, Noble’s longtime neighbour Gwen MacPherson organized a surprise party. “He couldn’t believe it,” MacPherson said. “He loves the neighbours and he loves to party.”

Meanwhile, Coates celebrated his birthday at the Gorge Road Hospital, where he now lives.

Coates was born in Victoria and is the eldest of 10 children.

He worked for the B.C. Liquor Board and married his wife in his late 40s.

Patricia Coates, 92, said they met playing golf. The couple enjoyed a very active social life, bowling and square dancing.