105 Year Old: Football, Ice Cream and Swimming Part of Longevity

edf057936fe5b03687c99ec4eea6d8a4Published Aug. 18, 2013 by Imperial Beach Patch.

There are a lot of opinions in the world about what leads to a long, happy life.

For Coronado Cays resident Jewell McFarlan, who turned 105 years old Saturday, her formula for longevity is fueled in part by swimming and working into her 90s, a love of Oklahoma Sooners football and chocolate chip ice cream.

“Take ice cream out the freezer and it makes me happy. Just to see them take it out of the freezer,” McFarlan said. As a kid she got ice cream once a year.

“She eats five quarts of ice cream a week,” said her son­in­law Don Patrick who brought her to Luna’s Beauty Designers in Imperial Beach for her regular haircut.

“She’s a very special lady. We can’t explain it,” he said. “She’s a rare bird.”

A celebration of McFarlan’s birthday will be held at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Coronado Sunday for her birthday.

McFarlan was born in Bolivar, MO.

“We walked,” McFarlan said when asked what she did for fun as a kid.

Over the years she also remembers newspaper headlines about the Titanic sinking and staying up late to see a television set for the first time.

When she was four, McFarlan saw an automobile for the first time and witnessed the Wright Brothers fly a plane. Later that year McFarlan and her family moved to Oklahoma.

“We moved from Missouri to Oklahoma and it was a lot better than Missouri. Oklahoma people aren’t quite as class conscious,” she said.

Her ethos on life: “I love my neighbors.”

Growing up, McFarlan’s family wasn’t rich, Patrick said, so that may have contributed to her appreciation for a place that treated people equally.

“They didn’t treat the indians or the blacks or the whites differently. They just treated them like neighbors. That’s what she’s always said,” Patrick said.

McFarlan lived in Ponca City, OK for nine decades before moving to Coronado to live with her daughter Donna.

Her parents and four siblings lived in a tent until the home was built.

Once the home was built she remembers the sound of her father playing country and western blues.

When asked about her favorite music:

“My dad played the piano but at the time we had an organ old type organ and he had a friend that came over and the man played the violin and my dad the organ and piano and I went to sleep many a nights hearing them play and I loved it,” she said.

McFarlan was married at 17 and by the time her daughter Donna was a teenager her husband died and she started to work, first as a secretary and teacher then as a bookkeeper at a dress store.

She would continue in that job until she was 91 years old.

“I think that’s part of her longevity,” Patrick said. “She worked for everything and earned it. She doesn’t expect anything but will give you everything she’s got.”

McFarlan also went swimming 3­4 times a week at the local YMCA into her mid­90s. Her daughters were also accomplished swimmers.

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