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Samarkand Centenarians Learn to Hula for Active Aging Week

Taking up the challenge to discover new places and people during 2013 Active Aging Week, The Samarkand retirement community honored its four centenarians Monday by suggesting a new activity — the hula.

Helen’s Hulas, a local dance group of folks in their 80s and 90s, performed to music provided by Ukulele Lulus, a Santa Barbara ukulele group.

The centenarian honorees and others attending the private party were invited to join the dance and learn the hand, foot and hip movements of traditional hula.

Samarkand's Four Centenarians

Leticia (Ticia) Harz, 105
Born south of Oxnard, Harz grew up on her parents’ ranch next to the Santa Clara River, just a short horseback ride to the ocean. She met her husband, Herbert, on a South American cruise. They set up home in Connecticut, where they had three children, who all now live in the Santa Barbara area with a multitude of grand- and great-grandchildren.

Harz’s secret to longevity is occasionally splitting an Irish coffee with one of her daughters. But shhh — it’s her secret!

Christine Carlson Groppe, 102
A native Nebraskan, Groppe was destined to be a football fan and still follows the Cornhuskers. She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nutrition from the University of Nebraska and Michigan State, respectively. Groppe and her husband, Albert, moved to California in 1947 to escape the snow in Columbus, Ohio. Groppe was a nutrition specialist at UC Berkeley for 20 years, retired early and traveled the world visiting the young people she met during her years at the university.

She has two daughters and a multitude of great- and grandchildren. She says her secret to longevity is laughter.

Betty Bell, 102
Born on a small island in Texas, Bell was the youngest of nine. Her family moved from the island to Houston and then to Southern California when she was 13. Bell supported her ill parents from the time she was a teenager.

She and her husband, Samuel, have one son who lives in Santa Barbara. Her secret to living a long and healthy life is “good genes and the Good Lord.”

Alice Tooker, 100
The daughter and granddaughter of missionaries, Tooker was born in Kuling, in China’s Kiangsi Province. When her parents’ careers were disrupted by the Communist takeover, Tooker went to Wooster College in Wooster, Ohio. She has a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Wooster and went on to Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, to become a registered nurse.

She joined the Moral Re-Armament movement and traveled the world for 25 years representing their gospel of peace. She settled in Pasadena, working as a nurse for the Pasadena School District and seriously pursuing her interest in art. Tooker's art is on display at The Samarkand. Her secret to living a happy and long life is “to stay busy with the things you love.”

— Wendy D'Alessandro represents The Samarkand.

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