Celebrating the Centennial in Style – Lake County Record-Bee

Lakeport – He was asked a question that almost no one has asked: “How do you feel when you are 100 years old?” Seated in his favorite wooden chair that once belonged to his grandfather, the WWII Air Force navigator/bombardier and Purple Heart Medal recipient smiled and, with a twinkle in his eye, replied nonchalantly, “I feel like I’m 60.” Such a response Expected by those who know “Doc”, a former San Francisco dentist who has never stopped inspiring with his sense of humor, intelligence, and enthusiasm for life. On this occasion, a few days before his 100th birthday, and in his usual humble manner, Doc reiterated that he would prefer to stay out of the limelight and not speak for himself but he reluctantly agreed, realizing that living through a century is a rare feat, in fact.

Gaylord Staren was born on May 1, 1922, in Latham, upstate New York, where he lived 18, Doc turned 100 last Sunday, May 1, 2022. In honor of the hundred-year-old Lakeport native, and in celebration of his 100th anniversary, members gathered Multiple events over the course of several days lead Doc to later state, “I can officially say I’m an old man and it was all confusing.”

What Doc described as “overwhelming” was a whirlwind week of “coming and going.” His busy calendar consists of a surprise dinner served and awards ceremony at Post 194 American Legion Hall in Kelseyville on Thursday, April 28; Lunch with cake and ice cream at Lakeport Senior Center on Friday, April 29; Cake and Ice Cream Social at Renee’s on Saturday, April 30; a surprise parade and barbecue in the del Lago neighborhood on his birthday; An announcement was made at a meeting of the Lake County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, May 3rd.

American Legion Post 194 Commander Mike Marshall planned Thursday’s event for the man he calls “a jewel in my heart and an important asset to our position.” “Doc has been a member of the American Legion for many years and is still a member of its board of directors,” Marshall said. “Doc has been a very good friend since 2006. He has done many good things under cover of darkness. He has a compact Legion and a 501(c) rating. He has made two major donations to building maintenance.” Marshall estimates that up to 50 people attended the April 28 dinner donated and prepared by Rosey Cooks Gourmet Catering. Edgar Rosales, Wounded Warrior Fellow in the Office of Representative Mike Thompson (D-NAPA), provided a transcript of the Congressional Record that Thompson read on April 28, 2022, Proceedings of the 117th Congress, Session Two, “a celebration of the remarkable life of Dr. Gaylord Staren and his 100th birthday.” The same data appeared on the announcement initiated by Tina Scott, Superintendent of District 4, issued by the BOS at its meeting on Tuesday, May 3, 2022.

The record and statement include the following: d. Starin was born in New York to Charles Augustus Starin and Elaine Isabel Clark. Dr. Starin established his career as a widely acclaimed dentist in San Francisco…Five years after retiring from dentistry in 1984, he moved to Lake County to enjoy her country lifestyle. A World War II veteran, Dr. Starin is a loyal member of the American Legion Post 194 in Kelseyville, California, of which he has been a member for 32 years. He is also a member of the Kelseyville Lions Club and Lakeport Senior Center. Those close to him describe Dr. Starin as intelligent, attentive, gentle, independent, humble and generous. He is a very active person who goes to the gym a lot and never smiles. Dr. Starin remains a beloved individual to his sister, nephew, and grandchildren. He was a devoted husband to his wife, Laverne, who has since passed away…Dr. Starin is clearly a staple of the Lake County community and a true model citizen. Therefore, it is appropriate and appropriate that we honor him here today.” Post 194 also awarded Doc with a red, white, and blue embossed eagle pin for his service and two plates for his generous donation.

Approximately 40 to 50 people also showed up to extend their best wishes to Doc at the April 30 Renee Restaurant Meeting organized by Doc’s niece, a Bay Area resident Michelle Ruffo. Renee’s owner, Cindy Barley, described Doc as a “truly role model”. “He always has something fun to say about everyone and we enjoy listening to his wonderful memories of San Francisco.” Renee’s employee, Wanda McCoy, added that Doc has been coming to Renee almost daily for years. “He’s a great, always happy guy,” McCoy said. “He loves the ladies who work here and everyone loves him. Oh, and he kisses our hands!” With the exception of days when Renee’s is closed, Doc shows up in the early afternoon for the same meal. “He’s got a big salad, a little bowl of peaches or sometimes a pie and an iced tea he drinks with his metal cut,” McCoy said. “I think it’s a good thing that when they see me driving, they really fix my bowl and by the time I sit down, my food is on the table waiting for me,” admitted Doc. “The metal straw I’m using is my statement – my little way to help our planet.”

Last week’s festivities concluded with a Sunday parade through the streets of the del Lago community followed by a barbecue of sausages and burgers. The show, the brainchild of “co-conspirators” Scott and Lake County Sheriff Brian Martin, included representation from the Clare Lake High School marching squad, the Lakeport Fire Department, the Sheriff’s Office, the Lakeport Police Department, the American Legion, and the Great Lakeport Center. Many antique cars are featured. Doc said he was going to drive his 60-year-old Jeep, but he’s never been in a fire truck and “always wanted to be in one.” His wish was granted though he found climbing a fire truck in Lakeport to be the senior captain “a little difficult”. Scott said Doc loved rallies. “Actually, we met six years ago at the Memorial Day Parade. Doc wanted more people to ride in his jeep and we did. I love Doc. He loves his community. Every time someone needs, they come forward.”

“Celebrating 100 years is amazing,” Martin commented. “Document is a national treasure. I’ve known him for three years and he’s the cutest guy. Despite his age, he doesn’t let anything slow him down. You feel good around him. He has a unique perspective on life. He comes from a time when people can talk to each other even if Their policies were different.”

“Yes, he loves people very much,” confirmed Pat Skoog, one of Doc’s best friends. “He is physically active and does everything to keep himself. He doesn’t feel that anyone should interfere in his life. His friendship means a lot to me. He knows how to make people feel comfortable – even those that others may not like.”

On his 100th birthday, Doc joined the exclusive club of 95,000 plus centenarians in the country and around 573,000 in the world. Notably, NIH data shows that 85% to 90% of centenarians are women and only 10% to 15% are men. Doc was born only a few years after the First World War and the Spanish flu epidemic and in the same year the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was created. By the time Duke was 69 years old, the Soviet Union, then made up of 15 republics, including Russia and Ukraine, had disintegrated and collapsed. Six weeks before Doc turned 100, the world saw Russia invade Ukraine. “I’ve seen many changes in the world, but the changes don’t bother me,” said Doc, who lives independently and still drives, alternating between his excellent 1962 Jeep of 32,000 miles and his 52-mile-a-gallon. 2021 Toyota Prius Hybrid. “Change goes against a habit. But change can be good no matter what your habits are.”

One change made by UC Berkeley and University of the Pacific alumni, Arthur A. Dogoni School of Dentistry is unhappy with the need to stop walking. For years, he walked for exercise despite sustaining a leg injury during the war and having both knees replaced years later. You can count on seeing him three or more times each week walking down Main Street where he met many of his best friends today. “It’s something I had to give up a month ago, but I still go to the gym twice a week,” admitted Doc, who regularly takes part in an annual local fundraiser in support of breast cancer survivors. Doc prefers to keep the details of his wartime injuries secret. “It’s something I’d rather not talk about but I can simply say it was a life saving event.”

To the inevitable question, “What is the secret to your longevity?” Doc replied, “Maybe good genes, a good diet with lots of vegetables and fish and 50 years of exercise.” He added that he lives a “simple and frugal life after going through the Great Depression”. What words of wisdom would he like to share with others? “I don’t suppose I have any words of wisdom for anyone,” said Doc. “It is up to each person to find their words of wisdom. But at the end of each day, right before I fall asleep, I say, ‘Thank you.'”

Perhaps his way of thinking is summed up by a sign displayed in his front yard that reads: “In this house, we believe: Black lives matter; Women’s rights are human rights; No human is illegal. Science is real. Love is love; Kindness is everything.”

Another chat with Doc will likely happen in the future, but for now, he’s relieved that for once after a week of fun here and there, he can relax in his favorite chair and have his time again.

Gaylord Starin was born on May 1, 1922, in Latham, upstate New York. “Doc” hit 100 last Sunday, May 1, 2022. (Bernadette Hefflinger for Bee Record)

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