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Lemmon’s secret to 100: ‘Get plenty of exercise’

Art Lemmon, who was 97 in this photo, will turn 100 on Monday and will be celebrating with an open house Sunday, which he’s looking forward to. His secret to long life? “Get plenty of exercise,” he said. “That’s what Arvo Matis (who lived to 102) always said: ‘Exercise every day.’ And it’s true.”

Art Lemmon may have lost most of his vision, but his sense of humor still is going strong.

The lifelong Durango resident will turn 100 on Monday, saying the secret to life is “to just keep plugging along.”

Family and friends are invited to stop by the Lemmon home for cake and punch Sunday afternoon, where Lemmon is planning to regale them with his birthday poem, a tradition he began when he turned 89.

“When I was about 58, I had the startling thought that life had just about passed me by, and that it might not be too late to abandon the celibate state and seek me a mate,” one section begins.

He set about his campaign to seek a wife by taking dancing lessons, which led to the courtship of a lovely widow, Lucille Kleckner.

The couple was married for 34 years, nine months and six days before her death in 2012.

Lemmon’s secret for living 10 decades?

“Get plenty of exercise,” he said. “That’s what Arvo Matis (who lived to 102) always said: ‘Exercise every day.’ And it’s true.”

Lemmon’s active lifestyle started when he walked 5 miles every day as a letter carrier for 25 years. He hasn’t slowed down much since then. On Friday, he rode the exercise bike for an hour, spent 30 minutes walking and doing bending exercises in the kitchen and did 100 sit-ups on his bed.

The postal route also gave him something else – not one, not two, but three dogs.

“Most of the time, I had a dog accompanying me,” he said. “The first one, Mutt, belonged to Mrs. Violet Smith, and she finally came over and said, ‘Just keep the damn dog.’ I got all my dogs the same way, through alienation of affection.”

He lives in the rock house he built himself, which is next door to the house where he was born and grew up. He learned rudimentary rock-working skills with the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, where he helped build the Lion’s Den near Hillcrest Golf Course and Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison.

abutler@durangoherald.com

If You Go

Family and friends are invited to Art Lemmon’s 100th birthday celebration at an open house from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday at his home, 1872 West Third Ave.

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