Lillian Bernstein is closing in on 100 -- and she feels fortunate.
The nonagenarian gives three reasons for reaching 98 years of age and counting.
"I had some good parents, wonderful husband and never smoked," she said.
Bernstein was among the nine 90-something residents of Salisbury Estates on West Street who were honored Thursday for their longevity and life accomplishments totaling 836 years.
PHOTO GALLERY | Salisbury Estates celebrate Nonagenarians
During a ceremony before family and friends, three younger residents at the independent living community read brief biographies of the seven women and two men. The presenters cited their varied careers and personal achievements spanning more than nine decades.
"I think when you get to be a nonagenarian, you've followed so many paths," said Barbara Shepetin, an event organizer.
By mid-century, reaching 90 years old could be more commonplace. According to the U.S Census Bureau, expect nine million Americans to have celebrated their 90th birthday by 2050. That's more than quadruple the 1.9 million nonagenarians counted in the 2010 federal census.
From hometowns as far away as Poland and Tennessee, the nine honorees also had nine different keys to a long and fruitful life.
Lee native, Al Ingegni Jr., credits his wife Connie of 68 years for making it to 91.
"Marry well," he said, "and the rest will follow."
For lifelong Pittsfield resident Anne Nesbit, 91, religious faith, staying active and "enjoying a piece of chocolate every day" keeps her going.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
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Ninety is nifty
Nine residents of Salisbury Estates in Pittsfield were honored Thursday at the independent living community for lifetime achievements spanning nine decades.
Name Age Birthplace Keys to longevity
Lillian Bernstein 98 Chattanooga, Tenn. Parents, husband, never smoked
Helen Maislen 96 North Adams Playing tennis, golf
Shirley Metzer 92 Poland Keep smiling
Bob Rosenblatt 92 Brooklyn, N.Y. Patience, good listener
Alma Beer 92 Pittsfield Be kind to friends, neighbors
Gwen Gilbert 92 Brockton Canadian genes
Angie Testa 92 Pittsfield Home grown foods, olive oil
Al Ingegni Jr. 91 Lee Marriage
Anne Nesbit 91 Pittsfield Religion, daily piece of chocolate