When Herbert Gilbert’s daughter Joan reminded him that he recently turned 100 years old, he said he felt closer to 55 or 60.
Gilbert smiled and said it might have been “like any other day.”
Born Herbert Goldstein on April 16, 1919, the World War II veteran met with his daughter and extended family for a birthday celebration on Saturday. His family picked him up from Sunrise Senior Living in Santa Clarita, and he was treated to his favorite cake, German chocolate.
“It’s a blessing to still have my father here, and, usually, he remembers a lot from the past,” Joan said. “I’ve always called him my encyclopedia. Anything you would want to know, he knows about it, it seems like: ‘How does this work? How does that work?’ Because he was an electrical engineer, so he’s got a mind that just knows how things work.”
Gilbert also has a mind for history, he said, and saw World War II as the most significant moment he experienced. He chuckled and said he “learned from history to keep (his) nose clean.”
The youngest of three brothers, he learned about radar technology in the Navy, and then worked as a technician for Los Angeles City Water and Power. Dealing with anti-Semitism made finding work difficult, so the brothers changed their last names to Gilbert.
As he thought about how his life has changed, from working in his father’s tire shop at the age of 10 to marrying his late wife, Rose, in 1942, it’s his mobility that’s been the greatest change as he’s reached 100.
“Life now is very restricted because of my lifestyle,” he said.
If he were more mobile, he’d be active at table tennis, Joan said. Gilbert added that he would see more of the world, after several years of already traveling and taking cruises.
When reminded of his age, he jolted in his wheelchair.
“I’m 100?” he asked, then laughed. “I’ll be damned.”