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Montana centenarians celebrated at Governor's Conference on Aging

Virginia Olson
Posted at 4:58 PM, Oct 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-04 13:10:03-04

GREAT FALLS — If you live to triple digits, you are doing something right. On Tuesday, Montana’s centenarians were celebrated at the Governor’s Conference on Aging.

The 54th annual Conference on Aging took place in the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Great Falls, and was organized by the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services (DPHHS).

Along with a lunch and commemorative plaque given to those over 100, there was a silent auction taking place across the hall. All the proceeds from the silent auction go toward holding additional conferences on aging and paying for mini grants that go toward senior centers.

“We do this each year to promote good practices, caring for the aging, aging gracefully,” said Barbara Smith, administrator for the Senior & Long Term Care Division at DPHHS. “And we also celebrate those Montanans who’ve hit the 100 mark and to learn their lessons about life.”

The DPHHS list of centenarians include those who are or will become 100 years old by the end of 2023. The list includes:

  • (1) 107-year-old
  • (1) 106-year-old
  • (2) 105-year-olds
  • (4) 102-year-olds
  • (6) 101-year-olds
  • (21) 100-year-olds

Many of the centenarians spoke about their lives and how they lived to be over 100 years old.
“Good, clean living, I think,” said Virginia Olsen, who was born on October 10, 1921. “I just enjoyed life, lived on the ranch part of the time, many years, and ate good food, and had good friends.”

Many of the honored guests were involved in World War Two or had husbands fighting overseas. Peter Cladouhos was an Army Infantry Medic during the war and was even hit with a bullet. Cladouhos fondly remembers singing with his comrades in the bunkers to keep morale high.

“Somehow, we got together, and we made good music. We enjoyed doing it, and nobody threw any rocks at us to stop so we kept doing it,” Cladouhos said.

Even at 100 years old, Cladouhos can still sing the first verse of “Goodnight, My Love”, which was the first song he ever sang to his late wife.

Among the centenarians I spoke with, none of them would change anything about the way they lived their lives. They all appeared satisfied with the century-worth of impact they left on the world.