COVENTRY TWP. According to centurion Bob Wiltrout, life is all about a positive attitude.
As he celebrated his 100th birthday June 16 with his workout friends at SNAP Fitness in Coventry, he talked about putting any bad times out of his mind and only remembering the good.
Wiltrout was sporting a shirt with "100" printed on it. The last few years the center has held a party for him with a shirt reading "98", "99" and now triple digits. Wiltrout has been on a regular workout schedule at the fitness center since it originated as Jackie Lees in the early 1980s.
Manager Vickie Miller said Wiltrout rides the stationary bike as well as doing strength training machines.
"It is amazing," she said.
His son, Jim Wiltrout, said his father's health is pretty good, especially for someone who's lived a full century.
"He gets around pretty good. He is in real good spirits," Jim Wiltrout said.
They family has lived in Coventry since 1952 and Bob said he has three children and, by his count, eight grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
He said he began celebrating on Wednesday and has another party on Sunday, proving that he is keeping the good times rolling after a century. Bob said throughout his life he has seen "a never-ending kaleidoscope of fun." His outlook hinges on the fact that if he didn't enjoy it, he didn't remember it.
"I can't remember a bad memory. I can remember all of the fun I have had and if I had it to do over again, I would do it the same - everything," he added.
When asked what was the worst thing he has seen, he stuck to his guns and replied that he didn't see anything bad and if he did, he forgot them. His days have played out as a "never-ending surprise" and insisted that each day has to start with a laugh and end the same way.
Among the many unusual aspects of his life, Bob Wilmout was one of the founders of the Akron Water Ski Club. He recalled that he and two his friends were the first to do turnarounds and barefoot skiing on Portage Lakes.
He designed and built the family home from the ground up, where he and his wife Doris raised three children - Jim, Michelle and Richard - who went through Coventry Local Schools. He and his wife Doris were in school together, with her being a year behind him, at Rankin, Buchtel High School and the University of Akron. He said someone got them to be dates for a formal dance for the sorority and fraternity and they had such a good time, they stuck together.
"We conspired and cooked things up together. We had something going on at the campus between the fraternity and sorority all the time. She was the best partner anybody ever had," Wilmout said.
One area where he has followed a traditional path is the workforce, where he retired from McNeil Machine, having been in charge of customer service. When he was hired, they told them that his responsibility was to keep the phones from ringing upstairs. He was assigned about six men to help install tire making machinery, a pilot and a plane and he had to start up every machine that was installed around the world for the company.
SNAP manager Nick Ratcliff said Wilmout is a very positive person and gives hope to those around him. The fitness center is home to more than 500 seniors who are in their 70s, 80s and 90s and are members of SNAP working out multiple times during each week and with Willmouth and his retired friends regular at the facility, Ratcliff said it is a great place for them to socialize.
SNAP is located at the back of the building that was previously Coventry High School, located at 3089 Manchester Road.