John Edward Cronin paused when asked for a morsel of wisdom from his 97 years to bestow upon the younger generations.
"I know you're supposed to get wiser when you get older, but I can't claim that I've learned a lot," he said thoughtfully.
Then he recalled a rejoinder he heard from a young man recently at the Enumclaw Aquatic Center when asked 'how are you?'
"He said, 'Better than I deserve,'" Cronin said. "I thought that was a good answer."
It's these kinds of thoughtful observations that grandson Steven Meyer said show that his grandfather deserves respect - not so much because he's an elder but because he shows others respect. "He's always been there," Meyer said. "My gramps is a good listener."
Cronin was the subject of celebration at the Enumclaw Senior Activity Center Thursday during Respect Your Elders Day. Recreation coordinator Donna Elzenga said staffers asked the community to nominate elders for the title of 'Honorary Eldest Citizen' this year. (Read about last year's elders.)
Cronin was born May 15, 1915 in Brooklyn, New York, said daughter Pat Sommers and served 20 years with the New York City Fire Department.
He was living near Santa Cruz, Calif., in the early 90s, a few years after his wife had passed away, when an earthquake hit, cutting off all communication with the rest of his family. His four daughters then decided he needed to move closer to one of them, and so he arrived in Enumclaw shortly after that, he said.
At 97, he's still spry enough to work out regularly at the Enumclaw pool. When asked what his favorite thing about living in Enumclaw was, he replied simply: "living!"