The secret to reaching the century mark

Connie Rehberger spent her 100th birthday last Thursday like many others. Sure, she was planning to go out to dinner that night with family to celebrate her big day, but before that, she had things to do.

She spent part of the day carefully reading over the annual business report for IBM. (She is a stockholder.)

Rehberger is an avid reader. She also balances her checkbook to the penny, with a pencil. Rehberger has never owned a computer. And she doesn’t plan to buy one.

“I don’t have time to play with it,” she said.

Rehberger, however, has a cell phone. But she does not text.

“I’m just lucky I am able to answer the cell phone,” she said and grinned.

In addition to attending to her finances, Rehberger also took her 10 laps around Legacy Place on her birthday — a daily routine.

“People have said five laps make a mile. I don’t know that for fact,” she said.

Rehberger was born in Lebanon on Dec. 18, 1914. She graduated from Lebanon Community High School in 1932 and the University of Illinois in 1939. She said she would have graduated from college earlier, but she had to drop out a couple years to make money.

After graduating from college, Rehberger taught in a one-room school just outside of O’Fallon for four years.

“I was always good at math,” she said. “I was pretty good at English, but that wasn’t always my top concern. Math came so easy.”

Rehberger then moved to Scotia, N.Y., where she took a clerical job with General Electric on July 1, 1941. She worked at G.E. for 39 years before she retired in 1980.

Rehberger was the oldest of five children. She had three brothers and one sister, who were all younger and have since passed away.

Rehberger never married or had any children, which she said may have contributed to her longevity.

“I would have probably had a few more headaches (if I had married),” she said and laughed.

Over the years, Rehberger has traveled extensively, including once to Africa.

She attended the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., where she volunteered as a temporary accountant.

While on vacation about 15 years ago, Rehberger also rode Space Mountain at Disney World. She thought the indoor roller coaster was initially a movie theater.

“I took the ride for what it was worth,” she recalled.

Last summer, Rehberger took a helicopter ride with her nephew.

“That will be my first and only helicopter ride,” she said. “I wasn’t scared. But at my age, you don’t have to do some things a second time.”

Rehberger moved into Legacy Place in Highland on Jan. 1, 2011. Up until then, she lived on her own in New York. She stopped driving when she was 95.

“When I was in my 90s, I was talking to one of my nieces,” Rehberger recalled. “She asked me if I am living to be 100? I told her I am not going to comment on anything. I am going to take it day by day.”

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