Riverhead man turns 100, says diet and exercise are key

When John Marsman was born, bread cost three cents a loaf, gasoline was seven cents a gallon and the average annual household income in the U.S. was $750.

Those numbers may be long gone, but Mr. Marsman’s still around. The Glenwood Village resident turned 100 on Saturday.

How’d he make it to the century mark?

Sorry, folks, but his answer to that question is diet and exercise, just as the doctors say.

Mr. Marsman said he’s paid attention to nutrition since he got out of high school around 1930.

“I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, and not too much meat. No red meat,” he said. He does eat rice, beans and tofu, and doesn’t eat cake or junk food, with the exception of last Thursday, when his fellow Glenwood Village residents threw a birthday party for him, complete with cake.

Mr. Marsman can often be seen swimming laps in the pool at Glenwood Village or walking, according to resident Barbara Van Scoy. “Every day, he does a mile on the treadmill and he’s in the low-impact exercise class,” she said. “And he’s extremely sharp.”

Mr. Marsman said he used to do three miles a day, but now he’s down to hitting the treadmill or walking about once or twice a week.

“I have a membership in a gym and I used to go quite often but I had to stop driving in March because my eyesight is failing,” Mr. Marsman said.

“Except for my hearing and my eyesight going, there’s nothing really wrong with me,” he said. “I’m not on any drugs or medication.”

In addition to staying physically fit, he also keeps mentally fit.

He can’t see well enough to read books anymore but he uses talking books, and he’s a fan of sudoku, which is a number placement puzzle.

Mr. Marsman was born in Pittsburgh and grew up in New York City and Oceanside in Nassau County. He remembers a time when many houses didn’t have electricity.

“I lived in New York City when I was 6 or so and we had gas lamps,” he said. “Every night, the man would go around with a big stick and light the lamp.”

Mr. Marsman worked as an electrical engineer with the Sperry instrument company and later with Hazeltine in Great Neck. He’s been retired since 1967.

“At 57, I decided I had saved enough money that I didn’t have to look for another job,” he said. Mr. Marsman received birthday cards from President Barack Obama and from former “Today Show” weatherman Willard Scott. Mr. Marsman said he had no idea how they knew it was his 100th birthday or who had told them about it.

“I remembered that it was his 100th birthday,” Ms. Van Scoy said. “That’s because last year, we celebrated his 99th birthday and he said to us after he cut the cake, ‘Make sure you get a bigger one for the 100th.’=”

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