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100th birthday celebration for longtime Manteca resident

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POSTED April 25, 2013 2:01 a.m.

Nearly life-long Manteca resident Gilbert Simoni is celebrating his 100th birthday today from noon to 1:30 p.m. at The Commons at Union Ranch.

According to the National Vital Statistics Report, a man that was born in 1913 had an average life expectancy of 50.3 years. Gilbert has nearly doubled that average.

Gilbert was born in Half Moon Bay on April 25, 1913, where he later attended Half Moon Bay High School while working with his father on their ranch. He met his future wife, Irma Souza, while she was visiting her grandparents during the summer, when she was 15 and he was 17 years old.

At 18, Gil moved to Manteca to be closer to Irma, and he began working for her father as a ranch hand. They were married on July 2, 1932, and bought a small ranch of their own out on Austin Road. Gil played in a baseball league here in Manteca when his kids were growing up, and he also played donkey baseball, which is baseball except after you hit you hop on a donkey, run down around the diamond and jump the bases.

Gil was a grape farmer but supplemented his income working at Spreckels Sugar Mill stacking 100 pounds sacks of sugar in the warehouse. He has twins, a girl and boy, Donna and Duane, who were born in 1939. He continued farming, expanding into walnuts, almonds and melons. He opened a fruit stand in 1945 to sell his produce. He also continued with other careers, such as a California Highway Patrolman, a delivery man for Cloverleaf Dairy in Stockton, manager for Segerini’s Market in Stockton, a car salesman for Helm Chevrolet in Manteca in 1957, and his last job before retiring was a transit mix truck driver for Flintkote Co. in Lathrop.

Gil was an avid hunter and fisherman. He and Irma traveled often to Oregon, Klamath River and Yellowstone National Park. They would stay for months at a time in their travel trailer to enjoy the scenery and the fish. Irma enjoyed the sport as much as Gil did. They also traveled to Nevada, Hawaii and Mexico. His beloved wife of 65 years passed away in 1997.

Gil says his secret to longevity is a happy marriage, or as he put it: “A happy wife is a happy life”.

He stresses the importance of happiness all around, in one’s work, family, friendships, and hobbies. Gil will also tell you that his best kept secret to a long life is what he fondly refers to as his “whiskey,” a multivitamin supplement. Gil has three granddaughters and three great-grandchildren that love him very much. He is now happily enjoying retirement living at The Commons at Union Ranch. When asked about his reflections on his centenary birthday, Gil responds with a twinkle in his eye, “I never knew that this life would be a 100-year contract”.

Join Mayor Willie Weatherford, Police Chief Nick Obligacion and others at The Commons at Union Ranch for Gil’s 100th birthday celebration today from noon to 1:30 p.m. Additional parking will be available at the CVS and Raley’s parking lots.

The Commons at Union Ranch, built and opened in 2008, is one in a portfolio of seven Independent, Assisted Living and Memory Care Communities.

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