Family helps fuel a zest for life in new centenarian Fred Hughes.
Two daughters were on hand Friday as Hughes celebrated his 100th birthday at Garden Homes in Charlottetown.
He had four children, but lost a son three years ago.
Hughes also has eight grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren – an impressive legacy that gave him pause as he marked the special milestone.
“It’s family,’’ he muses, “that probably keeps you going.’’
Well, Hughes has been going strong for a long, long time.
Aside from smoking cigarettes until about the age of 45, than puffing on a pipe for another 15 years or so, Hughes, who only moved into a nursing home in May, has led a healthy, clean life.
He never drank alcohol.
He was always active.
And, Sally Jones notes of her father, Hughes always had a relaxed demeanor that allowed him to enjoy each day he lived and each person he met with stress keeping a polite distance.
“It’s just the way he lived his life,’’ says Jones.
“I think he just always saw the best in everybody. He just enjoyed life and appreciated the small things.’’
“It’s a terrific thing because there are very few people that live to 100 ... I had a great life. There’s no doubt about that.’’
Hughes has never been in poor health, and has not been on any medication his entire life.
“Health was always so good,’’ he says, punctuating the assessment with a warm smile.
“I never was sick in my life.’’
And what a life Hughes has led for 100 years and counting.
Hughes, the third of four children born to George and Minnie Hughes, grew up in Brackley Beach.
He fondly recalls skating on frozen ponds but later truly found his cherished stride in racing horses on ice and track.
“I never tried anything I liked as well as driving horses,’’ he says.
He tried, with considerable success, many ventures to support a good livelihood.
For many years, he operated a mixed farm, owned a few racehorses and bought and sold potatoes and fertilizer.
He drove a school bus for about a dozen years.
He also owned and operated Bayview Farm Tourist Home and Cottages for about 30 years with his wife, the late Rena (nee Younker).
Hughes lost Rena in March 2016 after 73 joyous years of marriage.
“Of course, she was my favourite person of all time,’’ he says.
“We loved doing things together.’’
Marlene Fitzpatrick says her mother Rena took great care of Hughes, who Fitzpatrick describes simply as the best father possible.
“His character? A gentleman and a gentle man,’’ she says.
“I think he always recognized the worth in people in all walks of life.’’
Smartly dressed in a light red and white striped shirt and dark red tie with a gray vest set off by a colourful boutonniere, Hughes took time Friday to assess his century-long life.
“It’s a terrific thing because there are very few people that live to 100,’’ he says.
“I had a great life. There’s no doubt about that.’’