Three Clayton women share ­reflections on life as they turn 100

Three Clayton women share ­reflections on life as they turn 100

Three Clayton women share ­reflections on life as they turn 100
Adele King, Kay Conover, and Arlene Romano each turn 100 this year.

CLAYTON, CA (Sept. 14, 2021) — The dining room at Diamond Terrace Retirement Community was filled with laughter, a lively banjo serenade, glasses of bubbly and the animated good cheer of residents who’d been mostly confined to their apartments for many months due to the COVID pandemic.

But now they were gathered to celebrate three of their own who are turning 100 this year: Adel King, Arlene Romano and Kay Conover.

These women are part of one of the fastest growing demographic groups on the planet – centenarians, people who have defied the odds to reach a venerable age. It’s a rather exclusive club; there are only 97,000 centenarians in the United States (the largest of any country) and just more than 500,000 worldwide.

Life on the farm

Arlene Romano

Adel remembers a time when there were 23 dairy farms in Sutter County, her family’s farm among them. Raised in the tiny town of Nicolaus, she grew up milking cows as the eldest of three children. She attended Heald Business College in Sacramento and put her skills to use at the John Breuner Furniture Co. for 44 years.

She enjoys tending her plot in the Diamond Terrace garden and shares her luscious tomatoes with neighbors and the home’s staff. Adel’s son and family live in Clayton, as do the relatives of many Diamond Terrace residents.

Arlene grew up on a farm, too, in Oklahoma. The Depression forced the family to sell off their land and belongings and head west, eventually settling in Campbell.

Left behind were the beautiful quilts Arlene crafted as a young girl and her father’s prize mules. “They were unlike other mules,” she recalled, “large and graceful. My father was so proud of them.”

After graduating from Campbell High School, Arlene worked at a variety of retail jobs. She ended up managing a grocery store for much of her working life and married a baker who later drove the delivery van for the bakery. They worked hard, saving every penny, and eventually bought a home in the Dry Creek neighborhood, where they raised their son, who now lives in Clayton. Arlene is still an avid quilter and also paints canvasses with scenes from her travels.

From England to America

Kay was born in Cheshire, England, and met her GI “Yank” husband during World War II. They moved to New York shortly after the war, but the prospect of work in post-war California drew the couple to the Golden State, where they raised four children. She remembers Walnut Creek, where they eventually settled, as a small town with a downtown railway station with direct service to Los Angeles.

Though Kay’s husband died of leukemia at age 60, she considers herself lucky to have had a good marriage and a happy life.

When asked if they thought they’d lived to be 100, all three women cited the importance of a positive outlook. “It’s a matter of reducing stress,” Kay suggested. “Doing what’s right, building friendships, being happy with yourself,” offered Arlene.

Good advice, at any age.

Pamela Michael is an author and communications specialist who has lived in Curry Canyon for 20 years.

Pamela Michael
Pamela Michael

Pamela Michael is a writer and communications specialist who has lived in Curry Canyon for twenty years.