Bobbie Rose portrait

“People are always asking me how did I get this far. How do I know how I got this far! I just live my life.”

I have just spent a few hours with Bobbie Rose, and I feel like I’ve discovered the fountain of youth—but it has absolutely nothing to do with age.

Bobbie is 101 and a recent “supermodel” for Bobbie Brown’s eyewear brand, but while there may be a “secret to her longevity,” it would be a colossal waste of time to ply her with questions about diet, exercise, skin care and brand of shampoo (she has an amazing head of hair). Bobbie is so much more.

Just Google “Bobbie Rose.” In TV news stories and online articles, you’ll find out that she’s self-sufficient: She lives on her own, drives, runs her errands, is an avid golfer and is always finding new ways to challenge herself. She makes paintings and sculpture (she started welding at 90); she’s also made shadow boxes, a puppet theater, a carousel, a totem pole, a tree house…

That’s why I’m visiting Bobbie at her home in the Philadelphia suburb of Jenkintown: I want to find out what drives her.

Bobbie greets me wearing a crisp white shirt, belted jeans, white sneakers, a little lipstick and a warm, welcoming smile—and in short order, it becomes crystal clear that she wants to do things her way. Rather than sit down and answer questions, Bobbie is more interested in introducing me to the treasures that fill her home—some treasures she’s collected, most she’s created herself. She wants to talk while we walk and let me get to know her through the incredible body of artwork she’s produced. So I grab my recorder, and off we go.

You’ve often talked about how your life really opened up at 90. What changed for you?

I’ll tell you what, numbers don’t mean anything to me, they don’t define who I am – never did. Although when I turned 90, I called my daughter and said, “90, that’s a big number. I better get moving,” and that was that.

Good things started happening for me. It was like someone was finally paying attention to me, acknowledging me. I won a golf tournament at 90—a Philadelphia championship for Super Seniors 65 and over—and I beat all the younger players. That was a really big deal for me. I was inducted into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in my 90s. I started welding at 90. Come take a look at at this…