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The secret to a long life? 'Don't die,' says 103-year-old local.

RoseWood Village Assisted Living in Greenbrier celebrated two residents’ entrance into the “Centenarian Club” with a birthday party at the facility on Thursday afternoon.

Virginia Hohenstein, 104, and Virginia James, 103, who both celebrated their birthdays earlier this month, wore matching party hats that read “It’s My Birthday” while surrounded by about 30 residents, guests and staff members.

“The secret to 104 years is to keep breathing,” said Hohenstein, who joined RoseWood five years ago, with a smile.

“The secret? I would say don’t die,” James, who joined RoseWood four years ago, told The Daily Progress. “Also, it takes more muscles to frown than to smile, so I would also say that smiling is my secret.”

RoseWood hosts parties for all residents turning ages over 100, according to the area director of sales and marketing.

Michelle Maraffi, the director of activities at RoseWood Greenbrier, hosted the afternoon party, which included games and trivia. In one game, the elderly residents worked in groups to come up with words that included the word “cent.”

“I just love to see them happy,” Maraffi told The Daily Progress. “As long as they’re happy, I’m happy.”

Partygoers enjoyed glasses of milk, sparkling grape juice, wine and beer during the festivities.

In another game, party guests were tested on their knowledge of 1920s trivia and major historical events including the Prohibition, the Suffragettes and popular baby names of the time — which, of course, included the name Virginia.

“I think I’m named after the state,” James told her daughter, Mary Wright.

James, who was born in Anaconda, Montana, in 1920, gleefully answered all of the 1920s trivia questions, adding that her mother fought for women’s right in the early 20th century.

“Even cooler because her mother was a Suffragette,” Wright said. “So she saw that battle firsthand.”


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