NEW ALBANY — Juanita Hofer recently reached her 100th birthday, but she is still staying active as a committed member of a local YMCA.
Hofer celebrated her birthday last Monday. The centenarian’s usual routine remains the same — each morning Monday through Friday, she goes to the Floyd County Family YMCA in New Albany to walk around the track for about 20 minutes.
The YMCA presented a celebration for Juanita’s birthday last Monday, and New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan declared the day “Juanita Hofer Day” in her honor.
“I didn’t realize how many people knew who I was,” Juanita said.
Charlotte Simmons, membership director at the Floyd County Family YMCA, said Juanita is an “inspiration to us all.”
“I am amazed at her — the way that she carries a cane around like it’s an accessory and doesn’t really use it,” Simmons said.
Robin Beard of the Floyd County Family YMCA’s finance team is also inspired by Juanita.
“It’s been awesome — I keep saying she is like ultimate goals,” Beard said. “I want to be her when I grow up. She makes 100 look good.”
Juanita said it feels “wonderful” to reach 100 years old.
“I never thought it would ever happen,” she said.
Her son, Randy Hofer, takes her to the YMCA each morning. She is a “role model” and a “celebrity” at the YMCA, he said.
“Pretty much everybody wants to live to be old, and they want to be healthy, and they still want to be sharp mentally, and she’s kind of an example that it actually can be done,” Randy said.
Juanita said she likes to exercise to “keep her weight down,” and she loves the staff at the YMCA.
“They’re a nice bunch of people — they’re very friendly,” she said.
Juanita is from Anderson, Indiana and relocated to New Albany about five years ago. She still remains fairly independent and lives in a house right next to her son.
“It’s like a golfer and a caddy,” Randy said. “I provide guidance and suggestions, and sometimes she takes them and sometimes she doesn’t, but she pretty much still makes all her own decisions.”
Juanita grew up on a small farm in Anderson, and she worked for 34 years as a factory worker at General Motors until retiring in 1974.
Randy said his mother’s background working on a farm is a big inspiration for her active lifestyle.
“There are days when she doesn’t feel like walking, but she says on a farm, there are chores to do and you get up and do them,” he said.
Her commitment to walking really kicked in when her late husband had a heart attack at age 56, Randy said, and they started walking together at the mall and a park in Anderson.
“Dad did it until he passed at age 80, and mom’s still kind of at it,” Randy said.
She started her routine at the Floyd County Family YMCA several years ago, but the COVID-19 pandemic meant a year-long hiatus from her usual routine.
Juanita said she was “cooped up” due to the pandemic before returning to the YMCA around the start of April when she and Randy were both vaccinated.
“Basically for a year she didn’t go out very many places,” Randy said.
Juanita is a member of Silver Street United Methodist Church in New Albany, and she enjoys cooking and baking. On Tuesday, she presented the staff at the YMCA with several homemade peach pies.
She also has another daily routine — each morning, she eats a Krispy Kreme doughnut.
“[Randy] goes down and picks them up, and I eat them,” Juanita said. “And if they’re hot, oh, I love them. Some people say I’m crazy, but I like them.”
Randy said his mom is generous, and she donates to charities ranging from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to the local animal shelter.
Juanita’s sense of humor is one of her defining characteristics.
“It’s not that she’s like a positive, rah rah cheerleader type of person, but she’s not negative — if something bad happens, she sort of accepts it and moves on, and she laughs everyday,” Randy said. “In fact, in all the pictures we’ve got from the birthday party, she’s laughing in all of them.”