At 103 years old, longtime Santa Clarita Valley resident David Gilbert said his secret to longevity is going for walks and eating chocolate.
In his pantry, you can find a stack of oversized Belgian chocolate bars, a favorite of his. And though the chilly winter weather has swayed him from going outside, Gilbert still goes out just about every day for a mile-long walk.
“(A love of) chocolate runs in the family,” Gilbert’s daughter Marty Williams said, as Gilbert’s brother, who was also fond of chocolate, lived to be 101.
“And I’ve got that down pat, as well,” she added, chuckling, “so hopefully, I’ll take after him.”
As Gilbert celebrated his 103rd birthday, he looked back on his life, remembering 60 years of adventures with his wife, Lucille, before she died in 2006.
Gilbert served in the Navy during World War II, while his future wife, Lucille, was in the Coast Guard.
“Finally the war ended, and I was waiting to get out when I got a letter from this girl who used to be my girlfriend,” he said. “She told me her husband had died — he was shot down over Belgium in the Battle of the Bulge.”
In the letter, Lucille asked Gilbert to marry her, so once he was released from duty, he went straight to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to do just that.
He and Lucille enjoyed traveling the world. Often, they’d travel to Europe, go on cruises and made it to a number of destinations together, including Africa, China, parts of South America and Mexico.
Though he doesn’t get to travel as much, with a son and a daughter, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, Gilbert still has lots of family to visit and goes on yearly trips with family.
On a trip down to San Diego to visit his son last year, Gilbert could be seen riding an electric scooter on the cliffs of La Jolla with a big smile on his face.
“He’s probably the healthiest 103-year-old you’ll find,” Gilbert’s grandson David Williams added.
Gilbert was like a father to David and a lot of his friends while they were growing up, according to Williams.
“When we were younger, he taught all my friends how to drive in the (College of the Canyons) parking lot,” David added, chuckling. “We all enjoyed that. They still talk about it to this day.”
Gilbert still lives in the same home he purchased newly built 45 years ago in Valencia, and though things have gotten slower over the last few years, according to him, he still enjoys the little things, like playing cards with Williams, who lives just down the street and comes over after work every day to play gin rummy with him.
“That’s life,” he said, smiling.