Enjoying a “proper” cup of coffee, ensuring there is plenty of laughter in one’s life, and surrounding one’s self with the love of family – these are the key secrets to Frank William Hunt’s longevity – or so he’ll tell folks.
The 100-year-old Murrayville resident shared some of these tips and his own rendition of a song called What I want is a Proper Cup of Coffee, during a birthday bash held in his honour on Saturday.
Hunt actually turned 100 on Feb. 3, which he marked in the acute care ward at Langley Memorial Hospital, explained his daughter Sylvia Butler.
He had been living at home until just two weeks earlier, when he suffered a small stroke and was rushed to hospital.
Fortunately, he was doing well enough this past weekend that doctors sprung him for a few hours, allowing him to return home for the day to enjoy a “real” centenarian-style birthday party.
He was surrounded by his extended family, including his three children – Valerie, Sylvia, and Richard – along with their spouses and eight grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. He was predeceased a few years ago by his wife of 75 years, Florence.
The evening’s entertainment featured a 45-minute movie called 100 Years of Being Frank.
“It included film of some of the English monologues and stories that Dad is still famous for saying, and even at this great age, he is still word perfect,” Butler said.
It also featured her father singing the coffee song that he’s apparently already become synonymous for singing at the hospital.
“When the doctors came in on their rounds, Dad sings this for them. I cannot think of a better check for a TIA or stroke can you?” Butler said.
“He is even heard cheering up his fellow patients with his rendition of What I want is a Proper Cup of Coffee, a real tongue twister for anyone, never mind a centenarian.”
Where it all began
Hunt was born in 1916 and emigrated from Birmingham, England in 1970, along with his wife Florence, to join their daughters and families in Delta.
He was a foreman at the General Electric Company during the Second World War, supplying electrical and engineering products to the military.
“Mom would tell me how Dad worked all day and then all night in the GEC home guard, sleeping in shifts. I even found his thank you letter from King George and his platoon photo,” shared his proud daughter.
Hunt met his future bride in 1934.
She apparently heard from her twin that a handsome young man was working at his uncle’s green grocers shop on Saturdays.
“She ran past her twin, and into the shop and asked him for some tomatoes. And he, not looking at the scale but at her, asked her out to a movie,” Butler said, recounting the story as she’d heard retold many a time during her childhood.
Apparently Hunt was so smitten that he gave Florence two pounds of tomatoes for the low price of sixpence. Turns out, it paid off. Their first date – just a few days later – was the viewing of the 1934 release of King Kong.
The couple married exactly four years later – to the day.
“Mom saw that it fell on a Saturday, and she asked him if they could save enough to get married then. Dad always joked that she proposed to him,” Butler said.
Hunt worked for GEC from 1930 to 1970, rising through the ranks to senior buyer for the company until he left the country.
After arriving in Canada, he worked for Dunwoody Limited for a time, often working in isolated locations that required him flying in and out in small planes.
What makes life worth living
Besides family, which has always been important to Hunt, he was asked about pastimes that he has enjoyed through the years. With help from his his daughter, he shared that he had a passion for fishing and still enjoys an insatiable love to play cards.
“He was taught to play cards around his parents parlour table and, as a family, we still made time for this every Sunday afternoon. He could never remember what he had for breakfast, but always knew who’s turn it was and what cards had been played,” Butler said.
Since his stroke, Butler has video taped him playing solitaire on his hospital tray table, describing it as a good means to strengthen his right hand and help with co-ordination.
Sadly, fishing is no longer in the cards for Hunt, but he always loved casting a line from the banks of rivers in England.
“He adjusted quickly to the mountain lakes of B.C., where he and the ‘menfolk’ enjoyed many a good trip and stories of the Big One that got away,” Butler said.
A segment of his movie – shown during his weekend birthday party – featured a clip filmed by a family member who’s a professional videographer. It was of Hunt sharing a few words with his family.
“To my future great grandchildren… Just have fun, be happy, like your Granddad,” he said.
Hunt acknowledges that his British sense of humour, quick retorts, and funny quips make everyone else laugh, but assuredly have also been essential to his long life. After all, he said, laughter does a body good!
One-hundred-year-old Frank Hunt was given a birthday bash at his home Saturday, surrounded by family and friends.
Murrayville’s Frank Hunt was in a member of the General Electric platoon in England during the Second World War. He’s pictured as the fourth from the right in the second row with his reserve occupation platoon in 1940.
Murrayville’s Frank Hunt, now 100, was in a member of the General Electric Home Guard platoon in England during the Second World War.