Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.” Keiko Fukuda, Tao Porchon-Lynch, George H.W. Bush, Nola Ochs, and Doris Day are just five of the many senior citizens who embody the spirit of Ford’s statement, having completed more in their 90s than many people do in their 30s. Here’s a look at these extraordinary adults who didn’t let age stand in the way of their passions.
1. Sensei Keiko Fukuda: Last Living Student of Judo’s Founder
Keiko Fukuda lived her lifelong motto, “Be strong, be gentle, be beautiful, yet firm and strong, mentally and physically.” According to the Keiko Fukuda Judo Foundation, she devoted her entire life to the practice of judo. She was a student of Jigoro Kano, judo’s founder, who later asked her to start a women’s division. In 1964, she demonstrated her skills at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Tokyo. In 2011, at 98, she was the first woman promoted to 10th dan, the highest level in judo. She taught three days a week until her death at 99 in 2013.
2. Tao Porchon-Lynch: Master Yoga Teacher
At 96, Tao Porchon-Lynch is the oldest master yoga teacher alive. According to her official online bio, in the 1940s and ’50s, she was an actress in England, France, and the USA (and later wrote screenplays and made documentaries) before she started teaching. Watch her dance at the 2011 Fred Astaire Championships.
3. George H.W. Bush: Skydiver at 90
Did you know that former President Bush’s plane was shot down while serving as a fighter pilot in the Pacific theater during World War II? He parachuted into the water, only to be rescued by an American submarine. He says he “did it wrong” by pulling the ripcord too early. On his 80th birthday, he did it right! He jumped again on his 85th birthday and marked the occasion of his 90th with yet another jump — his eighth. Watch him jump from 10,000 feet with retired members of the US Army’s Golden Knights.
4. Nola Ochs: World’s Oldest Master’s Degree Student
Today’s nonagenarian might just as easily be a braniac as a master yoga teacher. Take the case of Nola Ochs, who became the world’s oldest college graduate at 95. Ochs didn’t stop after receiving a bachelor’s degree in history — she went on to earn a master’s in history from Fort Hays State University in Kansas when she was 98 years old. In 2012, at age 100, she was busy writing a book.
5. Doris Day: Actress, Singer, Animal Rights Activist
The name Doris Day immediately draws to mind Rock Hudson and the movies the pair made together. On her 90th birthday, a fundraiser was held for the Doris Day Animal Foundation, a testament to her love of animals. According to People, she not only surprised the guests by attending the event, but she also made a point of greeting everyone.
These outstanding older adults prove that people can, and do, make great contributions well into their 90s. You may not be a judo master or a skydiver, but you still have something important and inspiring to contribute to the world.