As of January 2018, the oldest resident at The Commons on Marice was also one of the most active. LeRoy B. walked two laps around the senior living community in Eagan, Minnesota, every single day.
If you ever saw him on his two-mile jaunt, you’d have never guessed he had just turned 104. In fact, LeRoy barely believed it himself. “I have to admit that I’m lucky,” he told us. “To be honest, I really do feel better now than I did ten years ago.”
We caught up with the retired teacher after one of his walks and he regaled us with story after story, including the one about coaching a championship swim team — even though he couldn’t swim.
The Swim Coach Who Couldn’t Swim
During his younger years, LeRoy had worked as a teacher at St. Thomas Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota. “I was teaching physics and having a great time,” LeRoy reminisced fondly.
At the time, the school had a football team and other various sports teams, but it lacked a swimming team. The president of the school called LeRoy into his office one day and told him that they wanted him to be the swim coach.
“I said ‘Oh Father, I would do most anything for you, but I don’t know how to swim!” said LeRoy. He was still given the job anyways despite inexperience in the water.
When the team would win a meet, it was customary that the coach be thrown in the pool. “Half the team would throw me into the pool,” LeRoy explained with a laugh. “Thirty seconds later the other half would jump in to save me from drowning.”
Staying Active at 104
In addition to his daily walks, LeRoy had also played golf regularly with his daughter, stopping only when he turned 100 years old. He stated two reasons for giving it up, ultimately. “I was getting kind of old, and I was losing a lot of balls,” he explained. Also, his daughter’s game kept improving, and LeRoy had vowed he would stop playing on the day she beat him.
Life at his Senior Living Community
With the help of his daughter and her family, LeRoy made the decision to move into a senior living community when he was 99 years old. “I didn’t like to make coffee. I didn’t like to make muffins. In fact, I didn’t like to cook,” he said when asked about his reasons for beginning the search.
While some of his motivations for a move may have been the readily accessible and delicious food offerings at the community, LeRoy touched the hearts of those he interacted with at The Commons on Marice in many ways.
“LeRoy was exactly the kind of person that makes The Commons such a special place,” Dani M., a former team member at The Commons on Marice, told us. “He’s well-known for being a centenarian, but around here, we just knew him as the kind man with a great smile and a sense of humor to match.”
LeRoy loved engaging with everyone he met. “He was generous with his time and always willing to share one of his great stories – he found ways to connect and share wisdom in a way that’s truly inspiring,” Dani said.
Editor’s Note - This article originally published in January 2018 and was updated in November 2021.