Pleasanton Weekly

News - September 9, 2011

Happy 100th birthday, Daisy

Centenarian credits her longevity to natural food, exercise on the farm, and music

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Daisy Roberson, who turned 100 years old last Thursday, remembers growing up on a farm in Kansas with her six brothers and four sisters. She was third from the oldest, born Sept. 1, 1911

"I took care of all the younger kids," Daisy recalled, as a birthday celebration was getting under way that afternoon where she lives at the Parkview on Valley Avenue in Pleasanton. "I started cooking when I was 6 years old. I baked bread and pies. All the kids around said I made the best chocolate cake."

She didn't taste store-bought bread until she was 13, which she believes contributed to her good health. Farm life also meant rising early in the morning and working hard all day.

Guests at Parkview included five generations of women in her family: daughter Gloria Roberson; granddaughter Rhonda Fee; great-granddaughter Alivia Schlesser; and great-great-granddaughter Caylee Duffus, age 18 months.

"I like to listen to the radio," Daisy said. "I never take a nap."

She moved to California with her husband in 1941 and they moved all around the state for his work before settling in San Leandro. She also lived in Fremont before moving with her daughter to Pleasanton about 11 years ago.

Daisy was a professional seamstress and also taught the accordion. When accordion playing became the rage she took lessons, then began to teach it.

"She has perfect pitch," explained Gloria. "She would tune everyone's instruments."

Gloria could not start school with the other children due to illness, so Daisy took it upon herself to become her teacher. When Gloria was healthy enough, Daisy asked the teacher when the children in school would be tested and talked her into letting Gloria sit in on the test, too, to see if she knew enough to join the second-grade class.

"She passed," Daisy recalled.

She also fondly remembers the fun they all had with music and attending barn dances in Santa Cruz.

Now her eyesight is gone but she joined in the fun at the Parkview party, donning a pair of Happy Birthday eyeglasses and cuddling with her great-great-granddaughter, who calls her Nonnie.

"I was always strong and I always exercised and here I am," Daisy said with a smile.

Granddaughter's tribute

It's not everyday we get to witness someone celebrate a century of living and five generations together at one time. Grandma is generation 1; Gloria Roberson, my mom, is generation 2; my sister Denise Fee and I are generation 3; our children Kayla and Connor Coatney and Alivia and Morgann Schlesser are generation 4; and Alivia's Caylee Rose is generation 5! Wow!

Grandma rarely ate out at restaurants. She has always had a great awareness of cleanliness and good hygiene, and realizing you don't always know what you'll get at a restaurant, she chose to steer clear of eating out most of the time. I imagine that's part of the reason she is still to this day one of the healthiest people I know. With that said, she mostly ate only what she cooked. She personally has never eaten (and still to this day does not eat) butter, gravy and mayonnaise. Seriously, in her baking she used shortening instead of butter! Go figure!

As her granddaughter, I have to say her skill for baking is a favorite of mine and growing up we often shared recipes and the love of baking. In my childhood, Grandma literally made her own donuts, cinnamon rolls, pies, cakes and candy! I believe my love of sweets is in large part grandma's fault! Sweets have always been her favorite and they are for sure mine! Thanks, Grandma!

--Daisy Roberson's granddaughter Rhonda Fee, a local Realtor

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