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B.C. woman celebrates 106th birthday during second pandemic she's lived through

Last Updated Aug 31, 2020 at 6:39 am EDT

(Courtesy Laura Armstrong)

Ila Lundy has been alive during the biggest events of the last century -- including the 1918 flu pandemic

Lundy is a resident at a long-term care home in Delta and recently celebrated her 106th birthday

DELTA (NEWS 1130) – World War One had just begun when Ila Lundy was born and the Titanic had been sitting at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean for only two years.

More than a century later, the Vancouver-born and raised woman is celebrating her 106th birthday in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic — the second pandemic she’s been alive for.

“No, that was too young for me,” she told NEWS 1130 a day after her birthday when asked if she remembers the 1918 flu pandemic.

Born on August 27, 1914, Lundy — who is still sharp with her memory intact — has seen a lot of change over the years.

“In the old days when I lived as a child, oh, it was a different kind of a world” she said. “Stanley Park was some place you went to and just enjoyed and it was so beautiful and you took a streetcar down there and it ended up at the end of the trail […] and there wasn’t a crowd of people there — there was a certain amount of cars that would come.”

Lundy’s family says she’s led a long and happy life. As a baby, she won first prize in the PNE’s annual Better Baby Contest and she played piano in her own orchestra for decades as an adult, performing for hundreds of people at weddings and other events in halls and legions across the Lower Mainland.

“I played by ear most of the time but I know when I was playing right and when I wasn’t,” she said.

In 2000, Lundy and her bridge partner won the North American Bridge Championship trophy in Duplicate Bridge for playing the best hand.

“[My partner] came back to me, she says ‘you’ll never guess’ and I thought ‘what happened?'” Lundy said. “I thought, ‘oh I guess we got the worst place of all, I suppose,’ and so she came back, she says ‘you know we won the prize and we were four lines ahead of anybody,’ and I couldn’t believe it.”

When she was 17, Lundy met her future husband at Boundary Bay — a moment she seems to vividly remember.

“When I first saw him on the beach, when he came in, I thought ‘ooohhh my goodness, isn’t he terrific?’ I never, ever thought he would look at my direction,” she recalled.

Ila Lundy and her husband. (Courtesy Laura Armstrong)

The pair was married for about 40 years, until his passing.

“I was always in love with him,” Lundy added. “I’m glad I married him, glad I found him, and I never knew I was going to have such a handsome man.”

And he loved her just as much — he learned to play the saxophone just to spend more time with her, according to their daughter, Marlaine.

The couple had two children, providing Lundy with two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Lundy lived independently in her own home until the age of 97. She now lives at Augustine House in Delta, which organized a celebratory luncheon last Thursday to celebrate her birthday. Her family also did a birthday drive-by parade to celebrate the milestone while keeping a safe distance.

The secret to a long life?

“I really don’t know what it is at all,” Lundy replied when asked. “In the morning I have lemon juice with a little bit of honey.”

But she knows what matters most in life.

“I think being in love, you know, showing love and being honest are the only two things that are really important,” she added.

Augustine House Society held a special luncheon and Ila Lundy’s family drove-by during a safe, celebratory parade (Courtesy Jackie Reiners)
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