JOSEPH Stenson’s longevity could be attributed to leading an active life.
The former wrestler and self-appointed naval personal trainer celebrated his 100th birthday on Wednesday with friends and family at his Bethanie Kingsley home.
Mr Stenson, the fourth of nine children to George and Lillian Stenson, grew up in London where the family operated a bakery.
At age 20, he joined the Royal Navy where he served from 1936 to 1945 on the Sussex, the Juno and the Suffolk during World War II.
He was a leading seaman but also devoted himself to encouraging his shipmates to maintain peak physical fitness by conducting personal training sessions onboard and onshore whenever possible.
His expertise as a wrestler also saw him become the champion wrestler of the Royal Navy’s Mediterranean Fleet.
His passion for the sport continued after his naval service and he even took part in an exhibition bout in the 1948 London Olympics.
In 1955, Mr Stenson started employment with iron company Murex Ltd where he was trained as a thermit welder.
This training meant in 1964, Mr Stenson and wife Muriel could immigrate to WA where the Western Australian Government Railways had just started thermit welding of the rail network.
The couple lived in Scarborough, Heathridge and Craigie and were inaugural members of the Whitford Seniors Citizens Club.
After he retired, Mr Stenson’s passion for keeping himself fit and helping others of his generation to do the same led him to become the club’s fitness instructor where he conducted classes for hundreds of seniors twice a week for more than 30 years.
In recognition of this commitment, he received the 2003 Senior of the Year award for sports and recreation.
In March 2006, Mrs Stenson lost her battle with Alzheimer’s so, in 2011, Mr Stenson moved to Bethanie Kingsley where he has made many friends among the staff and residents.
He remains active, walking to the shopping centre as often as possible, meeting friends for a weekly coffee catch and the occasional trip to the Hillarys TAB.
“It is a wonderful way to live out my older years,” Mr Stenson said.
“I have no complaints; I am a lucky man.”
Joseph Stenson’s love of his wife Muriel and of writing poetry about love, life, nature and animals inspired him to write many poems.
Here are two of his most recognised.
Muriel is Mr Stenson’s interpretation of his wife’s perception of her illness, while My Muriel was written in the final stages of Muriel’s illness.
You see me as I am today
Now to slow decay
I silently cry “I can’t tell you my thoughts”
My mind is blank
The ones that I loved
And all my friends
Are just shadows in my mind
My love has faded
I smile no more
My mind is now just a closed door
I now live in the past and memories
Of my childhood come
Flowing slowly back from the minds hidden store
If I could hear your voice again
And see that long lost smile
To hold you in my arms once more
If only for a while
To see some recognition
In those eyes that have lost their shine
If only I could know, My Dear
My visits are not in vain
That when I say goodbye to you
My heart will feel know pain