October 21, 2021

At 100, ‘she’s one of a kind’

Cincy woman to reach the century mark this weekend

Katie Keyser/living and leisure editor

Ruth Diaz said she can’t believe she’s turning 100 either.

Her secret: “Keep breathing.”

The Cincinnatus woman doesn’t feel any different than her 99th or any other year. She will mark her 100th birthday Saturday.

“I don’t feel 100.”

She was born Ruth Smith in 1920, when modern radio was born, more families could afford a car and women gained the right to vote. Franklin D. Roosevelt was chosen vice president by the Democratic National Convention, but his ticket with Gov. James Cox of Ohio lost to Republican Warren Harding.

Ruth later married Joe Diaz, who died when he was 65. The couple had four children.

Diaz worked for Victory Markets for 23 years. “They pay me to stay home,” she said.

She has a lot of grandchildren — “you don’t even want to know” — and she has 24 or 25 great-grandchildren.

Katie Keyser/living and leisure editor

Laurie Snyder of East Homer, left, and Ruth Diaz of Cincinnatus, share a laugh Wednesday at the Willet Senior Center in the Willet Town Hall. Seniors gathered to celebrate Diaz’ 100th birthday, set for Saturday.

She was an avid golfer and the chief volunteer pancake maker at the Willet Senior Center till 90. She remains a lethal pitch player.

“I played good golf till 88. I played in a league till 90. I’m still a member of the Seven Valley Golf League,” she said.

“She just gave up her car last month,” said Marcy Sudbrink, a friend and Willet Senior Center worker.

Diaz is vibrant and energetic and walks merely with the aid of a cane.

And no, she doesn’t have a special diet.

“I eat everything,” she said.

“She makes awesome doughnuts,” Sudbrink said.

And she likes a glass of wine, said Irene Cook, who bought her friend a few bottles for her 100th.

“I am busy, because I am not dead yet,” said Diaz, talking at a birthday party Wednesday at the Willet Senior Center on Route 41. The seniors had lunch and a special cake for Diaz.

Katie Keyser/living and leisure editor

The Willet Senior Center provided this birthday cake for Diaz.

Laurie Snyder of East Homer, the recently retired senior manager after 19 years at the Willet Senior Center, used to golf with Diaz. And she counted on her pancake flipping weekly.

“She’s my mentor … I have always looked up to Ruth,” Snyder said. “Just her attitude for life. She has such a positive attitude.”

“I am busy every day of the week,” Diaz said. “Monday I come down here and play bingo. Tuesday I go to lunch with six women. Wednesday I go to breakfast with four of these ones. Thursday I stay at home and do housework. I cook for my son, Joe, who I live with. Friday I’m down here playing pitch. And Wednesdays too.”

“I think she’s such a character,” said Marie Whaley of East McDonough. “She’s got a good sense of humor. And I love her to pieces.”

Katie Keyser/living and leisure editor

Ruth Diaz, left, and her pitch partner, Charlie Strough of Willet, celebrate her birthday Wednesday.

Diaz said she’s enjoyed all the decades. None stand out.

“I have had a good life. I am going to live for another 10 years.”

“She’s one of a kind,” Cook said. “A wonderful lady. You pick on her and she comes back with a better one than I gave.”

“I have known her 60 years,” said Gary Cook, Irene’s husband. The two have been regulars at Knickerbocker Golf Club. “They had quite a clique up there. They’d play golf and have lunch … She loves to play pitch. She plays three days a week. One day at the rehouse. She lives for pitch.”

Diaz said the most useful invention she’s seen: “Probably electricity. When we were married, we didn’t have any. And running water. We didn’t have any. You used the spring that came off the hill.”

“She is the sharpest woman I know,” said Sarah Snyder, the center manager. “When we play cards together, I know she is sharper than I am … She’s a 100-year-old woman in a 50-year-old body.”