Life’s lessons, 100 years on

For a woman who's about to turn 100, Viola Manery is surprisingly independent.

Viola Manery turns 100 on June 17.

For a woman who’s about to turn 100, Viola Manery is surprisingly independent.

Up until October 2013, at the age of 98, she was still living by herself in her own house in Keremeos, cooking her own meals, keeping busy with friends, and playing bridge.

Not much has changed since her move to Auburn Retirement Residence in Chilliwack a year and a half ago. It’s not an assisted-living residence, but they do offer meals, even though Manery’s apartment has a full kitchen that she uses every day.

Manery has lived in B.C. her whole life. She was born in Merritt, moved to Penticton, then to Keremeos for 70 years, and finally to Chilliwack.

“My childhood was very pleasant. I don’t remember anything bad about it,” she says.

Being the youngest of five children by nine years, she spent a lot of one-on-one time with her mother as her siblings left home or entered their teenage years. She has fond memories of going to church every Sunday with her mother.

In 1939, she married Frank Manery who was 20 years older than she.

“But you’d never know it,” she says. “He was very good-looking and it was love at first sight. When he told me how old he was, I couldn’t believe it. He wasn’t a complainer, and he was always well dressed and put together. It was really a love match.”

Frank and Viola had two kids, Richard and Joan.

In the 1940s, they moved to Keremeos and bought a 10-acre fruit orchard. To say her life was busy on the orchard and in the community is an understatement.

She’d pick fruit and pack fruit. She ran two fruit stands, and kept up with the garden. She preserved countless jars every year of the fruit  they grew and made pies from every one of them on the farm — peaches, apricots, pears, apples, cherries, and strawberries.

She was president of the Anglican church women’s group for 40 years, involved with the Royal Canadian Legion ladies’ auxiliary, and got her fifty-year pin for her time with the Royal Purple Lodge.

Manery stayed active by swimming, dancing, and walking — lots of walking. She never had her driver’s licence, so she’d walk downhill into town to run errands and to get to appointments, and uphill back home again on a regular basis.

After Frank died in 1985, she remained active.

“I was still busy doing things. I always had so much support, like friends who would drive me places,” she says.

“Mom has a lot of confidence in herself,” says daughter Joan Tremblay. She’s a social butterfly, she adds.

“Mom is never short of words — she can talk at the drop of a hat. She has a pretty good outlook on life.”

“If I have something wrong with me, I want to see the doctor. If I have a worry, I want to fix it,” she says sensibly.

Manery is a breast cancer survivor of 21 years, but aside from that, she has had very few medical problems. She owes it all to the “good doctors” she’s had throughout the years.

On June 20, her family is having a 100th birthday party for her at the Auburn residence.

Everyone is going to write down and bring a memory of Viola and put it into a keepsake book for her, says her daughter.

So what’s her secret to living to be 100?

“You just keep going and try to look on the positive side of things,” she says.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Council meetings now closed to the public in Chilliwack

Changes comply with provincial orders for no public gatherings and help development applications

Chilliwack elementary schools roll parades through their neighbourhoods, past students’ homes

Unsworth and Central are two of many schools trying to connect teachers with students in fun way

Kinneman appointed CAO of the Fraser Valley Regional District

Her ‘experience and connection with the staff and FVRD partners was unparalleled’ says board chair

Chilliwack school district rolls out next year’s budget, expects COVID-19 costs to change things

Public is being encouraged to connect with the district with any questions about 2020/2021 budget

Chilliwack residents upset by blasting ‘nightmare’ in their hillside neighbourhood

Little Mountain neighbour says blasting ‘unconscionable’ while they’re following advice to stay home

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

B.C. sorting medical equipment sales, donation offers for COVID-19

Supply hub has call out for masks, gowns, coronavirus swabs

B.C. records five more deaths due to COVID-19, 45 new cases

A total of 838 people have recovered from the virus

Major crimes investigating sudden death of North Okanagan child

The 8 year old was flown to Kelowna General Hospital and died hours later

BC institution has highest number of positive results for COVID-19

11 inmates in Mission test positive for coronavirus, more than any other federal prison in Canada

Easter Bunny added to B.C.’s list of essential workers

Premier John Horgan authorizes bunny to spread “eggs-ellent cheer” throughout province

Travellers returning to B.C. must have self-isolation plan or face quarantine: Horgan

Premier John Horgan says forms must be filled out by travellers

More than 400 animals have been adopted amid pandemic: B.C. SPCA

People are taking this time of social distancing to find a loyal companion through the animal welfare group

Most Read