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Celebrating (at least) a century of life well spent

SALT LAKE CITY — Frank Bond is a man full of enthusiasm for the experiences of life.

And he should know; he's lived a very long time. In January, Bond will celebrate his 101st birthday.

While he has rather enjoyed his extended stay on this earth, he'll be the first to tell you that getting old has its challenges but also its rewards.

"It's hard to get dressed in the morning, and it's hard to take a shower," the lifelong Salt Lake City resident said.

"The best thing about being 100 is people want to see what I look like, and I try to hide out," he added with a hearty laugh.

Bond was among the 53 people honored Friday at the state's annual Centenarian Celebration, recognizing Utahns who have lived to be 100 years old. With so many years of life in one room, there were stories aplenty about time well spent in simpler yet familiar surroundings.

Isabel Thomas, 101, graduated from East High School in 1927 after moving to Utah from her native Wisconsin. The former nurse said back in those days, she enjoyed hiking and cross-country skiing with her late husband near the silver mines around what is now Alta Ski Resort.

According to the state Division of Aging and Adult Services, 125 Utahns are at least 100 years old, with 14 more who will have their 100th birthday by year's end.

The oldest living Utahn is Edna Decker of Salt Lake City, who was born on Dec. 29, 1902. The oldest man in the state is Clifford Frisby of Heber, who will turn 105 on Sept. 19.

Of those in attendance at the annual luncheon held at the Multi-Agency State Office Building, Laura Hendrix of Orem was the senior member of the century club at 106. She recalled growing up in rural Nevada as a child, saying her life was simple and full of joy.

"I was very, very happy," Hendrix said. "We thought everything was wonderful in our little country town."

One of her most vivid memories occurred around 1908, when she witnessed the first automobile moving through town.

"We saw it coming down the street … and couldn't figure out how that little wagon could (travel) without any horses," Hendrix said.