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Senior Lifestyles

Copley resident celebrating life at 102

3/6/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Sylvia Phillips will celebrate her 102nd birthday April 4. She is shown above, at left, with her daughter Kay Hine, center, and granddaughter, Sylvia Trundle, a captain with the Akron Police Department.
Photo courtesy of Sylvia Phillips
COPLEY — Copley resident Sylvia Phillips will celebrate 102 years of living April 4, and it’s only very recently that she has had to make some changes to her routine due to her age.

Her only daughter, Kay Hine, also of Copley, said she is amazed her mother has lived independently for so long, and it was not until her mother turned 99, when she developed bursitis in her knees, that she began to need some help.

Phillips, whose husband, Frederick, died when he was 95 in 2003, continues to live in the home her grandfather built for his family, with some assistance.

“She likes to look after herself and does not want to leave her things,” said Hine. “She grew up there, and she has a lot of memories of the place. Her mother and father both passed away there.”

Hine said her mother came to the United States when she was 8 from the Isles of Scilly, located in the English Channel, in 1929 with her mother and father. She enjoyed a visit to her childhood home about 10 years ago.

According to Hine, Phillips is not only the oldest living Scillonian, but she is the oldest Copley native still living in Copley.

Phillips learned to drive at an early age — 14 — and she was one of the first female bus drivers in Summit County when she worked from 1960 to 1972 for the Revere Local School District. She also did most of the family driving, including getting her husband to work as a plasterer at various sites.

In addition, she was one of the first volunteer drivers for Mobile Meals Inc. when the organization began operations in 1971. At that time, Phillips had to first drive to the kitchens at the then Akron General Hospital (now Akron General Medical Center) to pick up the prepared food before she could deliver it to clients.

“I remember an old man who had tomato plants growing in the front garden,” she said of her route. “I would always leave the sugar and butter packets open because they had trouble doing that.”

Today, Phillips said she is grateful to be on the receiving end of that organization.

“I enjoy meeting the volunteers,” she said. “They are so nice.”

Her driving stopped just two years ago at age 100. Phillips passed the Bureau of Motor Vehicles tests to renew her license, and she has an enlarged license to show that it does not expire until she turns 104. Despite that, her family convinced her to stop driving when her car started to need significant repairs to maintain its safe operations.

Hine said her mother continues to enjoy outings, but now lets others do the driving. Those outings include going to watch friends bowl. Phillips bowled for 32 years, until about four months ago, when she had to start wearing a pressure cuff to combat lymphedema in her right arm.

“I miss bowling, but I go once a week to watch my friends and cheer them on,” Phillips said.

Hine said her mother also looks forward to having friends over for tea, which is a long-standing English habit of hers.

Phillips does not like to make a big deal about her longevity, but her family does. They celebrated her 100th birthday with a big bash, but this year, the celebrations will center on quiet time with the centenarian.

“We like to hear stories about her life,” said Hine. “Her long-term memory is fantastic, and she remembers a lot about history.”

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