LANSING | Longtime Lansing resident Virginia Kotecki said there is no magic formula for hitting the century mark, as she did when she turned 100-years-old Aug. 31.
"I don't have any secrets," she said. "Just live a good life, that's all I did."
That good life that began shortly after Woodrow Wilson took office in 1913 has seen Kotecki blessed with four children, 14 grandchildren, 42 great-grandchildren, 18 great-great grandchildren and 1 great-great-great-granddaughter.
"I've got so many of 'em I can't count," Kotecki said.
About 80 of her friends and family joined her for a birthday celebration at the Cloister in the Woods in Munster last month.
Born Virginia DeLong in Washington Court House, Ohio, Kotecki later lived in Hammond and Calumet City before settling in Lansing in 1962.
Food lovers will be happy to know Kotecki has no specific diet advice for living a long life.
"I eat whatever I want," she said.
Kotecki recalls the days she used to take in movies in downtown Lansing, but nowadays she enjoys watching movies, game shows and cartoons at the home she shares with her daughter, Carole Krisco.
Kotecki's granddaughter, Dana Peterson, resides across the street.
"She lives across the street so she can keep an eye on me," Kotecki said.
Krisco said her mother has always been a stylish woman.
"She's always been very particular about herself," Krisco said. "Her hair always has to be just so. And she always liked to look very nice, dressed up."
Peterson recalled how her grandmother lights up when in the presence of children and how she always used to teach her to treat people the way she would want to be treated herself.
Kotecki outlived two husbands, but there is some history of longevity on her side of the family.
Her sister, Letha Haynes, also of Lansing, died 12 days before her 100th birthday in 2004.
Kotecki is a doll collector and used to enjoy bowling and bicycling in her younger years.
But she never owned or drove a car, although her father tried to teach her in his Model T Ford.
"I started it, but I started to go backwards," Kotecki said. "He says, 'No, No, you go frontwards. It depends on this pedal.' I says, forget it Dad, I'm not driving, and I never drove again in my life."
As far as unfulfilled dreams, not having traveled to Hawaii is one. But Kotecki also thought of one more.
"I should have growed up to be a millionaire, but I never did," she said.
But overall, Kotecki is very satisfied with a life well-lived.
"I just want to live to be happy and live as long as God wants me to live," she said.
Kotecki is unsure how she's reached this milestone, but she's glad she did.
"I like being 100," she said.