Frances Harpine, who lives at Arbor Terrace Fairfax, shares a birthday with the nation.
Harpine turned 99 on July 4, and she’s pleased to have an Independence Day birthday “because I was born in the U.S.A,” she said.
Born in Waterbury, Conn., she grew up in the Adirondack Mountains in Glen Falls, N.Y.
Her childhood years were defined by the Great Depression. Because of those difficult times, Harpine and her family had to move in with her aunt for a spell.
One of the most memorable lessons she learned during that era was to “save your money for a rainy day.”
When World War II broke out, Harpine studied nursing through a special scholarship for nurses who would serve during the war. By the time she graduated, however, the war had ended. Though she didn’t get to serve during the conflict, she can remember the wartime rationing and the blackouts, when people would keep their curtains closed and lights off in case of an enemy bombing raid.
Harpine spent much of her career working as a nurse and later went into teaching. She worked as a professor at the Catholic University of America School of Nursing for 30 years.
One of the most important social changes of her lifetime, she said, was the increased opportunities for women to attend college and pursue the career of their choosing.
She also has been impressed by the way technology allows people to access books and educational materials they might not otherwise be able to obtain.
Harpine, who has one daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren, has always enjoyed staying busy by traveling, playing golf and tennis, and reading.
What’s her secret to living a long and healthy life?
“I think I did it by spending most of my life on the outside – from a young child to an adult – enjoying the outdoors when I was growing up in the sunshine. I have always been a healthy person, and I have almost always been a happy person. I will say that I have also prayed a lot to God, to thank Him for taking care of me and [helping] me to be well and happy.”