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100 years: Alexandria celebrates centenarians at City Hall

Phillip Melville was just 19 years old when he escaped Nazi-occupied France in 1942. The retired civil engineer just turned 100, and on Tuesday (September 13) his longevity was recognized with a certificate on National Centenarian’s Day at City Hall.

Melville has lived in and around Alexandria for 50 years, and said he was blessed to escape France and become an American.

“The secret to my longevity is good looking women,” Melville said. “Being around them keep me young.”

Attendees at the event included members of City Council, and Anita Du Mars, a 101-year-old World War II bride, who said that the secret to long life is having “curiosity about the world and other people, as well as healthy eating habits and exercise.”

Mayor Justin Wilson said that the four centenarians in attendance have “squeezed 200 years worth of living in 100 years.”

“Think about the history that they’ve seen and how much change they’ve seen in our country during their lifetimes and in our community,” he said at the event. “The fact that they are here today and telling us those stories, teaching us is such a such a pleasure for all of us and it’s such a such a miracle to happen.”

Kate Garvey, the city’s director of the Department of Community and Human Services, said that advice from centenarians is valuable.

“We each forge our own path,” Garvey said. “But there are some constants that really are important for all of us — a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose, independence and an environment in a community that is nurturing. All those things are present for us today.”

Centenarians in Alexandria

  • Catherine Sevick — 105
  • Audrey Fenton — 100
  • Lowell E. Fisher — 100
  • Walter Hammersley — 100
  • Phillip L. Melville, 100
  • Marilyn McLean — 100
  • Frances Webb — 102
  • Miriam H. Wiener — 100
  • Virginia H. Sahaj — 102
  • Jane S. Sara — 102
  • Alice Schmidt — 102
  • Catherine Sevick — 105
  • Mildred F. Youso — 101