More people have been living into their 100s than ever before, particularly in the United States.

According to the UN’s most recent revision of its World Population Prospects released in June, our country has seen an 87 percent increase in population over the age of 100 this decade alone.

In the last 29 years, the number of centenarians in the United States has more than tripled.

“People are living longer,” said Cindy Mosiman, senior services director at the Waunakee Senior Center. “People are not only living longer but healthier, which is awesome, not to be depending on walkers and wheelchairs – not that that’s a bad thing.”

The village of Waunakee has seen its fair share of residents pass the century mark itself.

Agnes Ropers celebrated her 107th birthday in May, outliving her parents by more than 25 years. In a recent interview with the Tribune, the centenarian said she still feels healthy as ever.

“I feel pretty good,” Ropers said, “although I don’t get out much anymore.”

Born in 1912, Ropers has lived through both world wars, the Great Depression and prohibition. She attributed her longevity to remaining active throughout the years, even if it was just to get through the economic hardships her generation had to endure.

“I kept busy,” Ropers said. “When I could work, I worked.”

For years, Ropers served as a mail-order clerk for the Sears catalog. After moving to Madison, though, she retired from the workforce so that she could spend more time with her family.

When asked about nutrition, Ropers mused about the magic of chocolate and wine. However, she confessed that she drinks less than most, which is why the bottle of wine inside her fridge has aging been aging faster than she has.

“I don’t drink much of it,” Ropers said. “So it’s getting old, too.”

Waunakee resident Sue Heathman recently turned 102, and has now outlived her parents as well. She said the main reason she has lived so long is her stubbornness.

“I just refuse to die,” Heathman said.

Heathman grew up in the city of Odebolt, Iowa, in the 1920s. She graduated high school in 1935 and, after finishing college, taught music in the town of Humboldt. As one of the few musicians in the area, she would often have to play piano for local events.

“I played for anything that was going on in that little town,” Heathman said, “all of them.”

In her later years, she would become involved in china painting. At one point, she even headed the state’s porcelain-painter guild.

She said finding a hobby has helped her stay young throughout the years.

“It’s good to stay interested in what’s going on,” Heathman said. “Know what’s going on around you, and know the people you’re around.”

Like Ropers, Heathman has now joined half a million other centenarians around the world in their quest to become the next supercentenarian – 110 or older. When asked what words of wisdom she had, Heathman provided a simple but honest answer.

“I don’t have any advice for anybody,” Heathman said. “Just don’t die.”

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