He prefers to be called the old geezer from across the street. I like to call him a shining example of how to live a meaningful life at the ripe old age of 100.
He’s my neighbour and his name is Steve Gatensbury. He will turn 100 on Saturday. He’s delaying a celebration until the weathers warmer, maybe in June, because there’s no rush when you’re 100.
Steve and his wife moved to Beach Grove in 1983 from Burnaby after they saw an ad in the Vancouver Sun for beach front property. It turned out there was a house too, so they bought it.
Steve’s Father emigrated from England to California in 1888, and headed north to the Klondike for the gold rush. He landed in Coquitlam where Steve and his sister where raised. His father worked in the lumber business, so it was only natural that at the age of 16, Steve would follow.
He owned a successful millwork business where he bought leftover wood from local saw mills and repurposed the wood for exterior trims then exported it to the U.S.
That passion for wood is evident in his beautiful home, which is lined with stained cedar and has been renovated to suit his needs as he ages.
Steve spent three and a half years in the navy during The Second World War. He’s quick to admit he didn’t see much action except as crew on an escort ship. In the mid-Atlantic they were torpedoed by the Germans. Eleven crew members died, but the ship was rescued and Steve survived the war unscathed.
Once he retired in 1989 he began writing and has self-published 36 books, ranging from historical to poetry. His three children, three grandchildren, and three great grandchildren, are also a great source of joy.
Delta has one of the highest senior populations in the province at 20.5 per cent and growing. That’s led the city to develop an age friendly action plan.
Not everyone is as lucky as Steve to stay in their own home, but that’s the hope, that our seniors can remain independent and thrive.
Steve’s advice for healthy ageing is to find a hobby you like and practice it, and most importantly stay humble and laugh. Simple advice from someone who always has a warm smile and a story to share.
Ingrid Abbott is a freelance writer who is thankful the Delta Optimist celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2022 so she can keep telling stories about fellow 100-year-olds.