For 103 years, Leland Forrest has enjoyed Smucker’s Strawberry Preserves with his daily breakfast. Bluebird Retirement Community, where he lives, felt he’d earned a year’s supply of the fruit spread with his face on the jar.
Bluebird owner Paul Gross said Lee “cackled like a rooster” when he opened his birthday gift. The London resident may be more than a century year old, but his life is still vibrant and his memories still sharp. And he certainly has a lot of fascinating memories.
He was born on Dec. 12, 1914 in Chicago, Ill. He is a direct descendant of John Alden, who immigrated to the United States on the Mayflower. His grandfather was an officer in the Civil War. Forrest enlisted in the Navy right after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and served as a radio man for four years.
He doesn’t live in the past, however, he’s always up for learning new things and having modern-day experiences. Bluebird also recently treated him to a ride on a combine. The facility rented a lift to get him up into the driver’s seat. He couldn’t get over how things had progressed since the days of using a thresher. “I remember when they introduced soybeans to the U.S.,” he commented offhandedly.
He can’t be blamed for not keeping up with the latest farm trends — he was a newspaper man, not a farmer. His whole professional career was spent working in newspaper advertising and sales. He may have long since retired, but that doesn’t stop him from living a purposeful life.
His advice for longevity is the following: “Try to find something to enjoy every day and in everything you do. And if you can help someone else to do that too, that’s so much the better.”
Who knows for sure, but perhaps there’s also something to be said for having Smucker’s Strawberry Preserves for breakfast every day. Luckily, he has enough of a supply to bring him to 104.