Anne Smenos — Someone You Should Know

February 2015 View more

nm anne smenos 1_800pxAt 91-years-old Anne Smenos still drives 35 minutes to and from work three times a week. The lively grandmother, who was born six years before the Great Depression, attributes her longevity to good genes and a positive outlook. Smenos, who has lived under 15 U.S. presidents, was born in 1923. In that year, many of the few cars on the roads were Model T Fords, movie-goers laughed at Charlie Chaplin, and gangster Al Capone moved to the South side of Chicago. It was also the year that Howard Carter discovered the Tomb of Tutankhamun. Naperville Magazine recently spoke with Smenos about her secrets to living a long and happy life.

Some older people seem to complain about the aches and pains of everyday life, but you’re so positive. Why do you think that is?

I’ve only lived in a positive way. I learned that from my mom and dad, they were always positive people. My parents came here from Greece. My father didn’t go to school but I did. I have been very fortunate. My favorite word is love. God has been very good to me

You’ve lived through a lot. Is there anything that stands out as a particularly difficult time for you?

My brother was drafted into the Navy during the Second World War. He was just 18 years old. I’ll never forget those four years. It was such a worry but he made it back safely. I studied at Rosary College in River Forest. It was a wonderful spiritual experience for me.

Have you always worked?

Yes. After college I worked as a librarian and teacher at Sterling Morton High School in Berwyn for 38 years. I started in 1945 and retired in 1983. It was a love affair for me. The kids were very special and I made life-long friends. After I retired, one day a family friend who owned a restaurant, the Majestic in Cicero, asked if I would fill in as a hostess. I ended up staying there ten years! I loved it because I met lots of interesting people.

When I was 75, a friend encouraged me to go to an open day at C.D. Peacock Jewelers in Oak Brook. I said ‘you’re crazy, I’ve worked enough.’ But they are wonderful people and I’ve worked there part time ever since. I love it. I work from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. three days a week and I still drive myself.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I live with my daughter in Plainfield, which is fabulous for me. I also have a son and two grandchildren. I do a lot of reading and spend lots of time with friends. I also enjoy watching sports and I am a fan of the Bulls, Bears, Cubs and the Sox.

To what do you attribute your longevity?

My mother lived to 94, her mother 95 and her father’s mother 100. In 1987 I moved to Greece for four years to take care of my mother’s sister who eventually died at 100 years old. My tips for living a long life would have to include having a positive attitude, doing puzzles to exercise the brain, and drinking a glass of wine at 5 p.m. every day. God has been very good to me. I don’t look for accolades. I like to do things in a quiet way. I just enjoy being with people. I am so fortunate to have met so many wonderful people in my life. I’ve had all kinds of experiences. I love what I do, no matter what I do.