Los Gatos centenarian an inspiration in and out of the pool: “It’s Been a Great Life!”

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May 24, 2021 -- You may not find another 100-year-old with as much energy and can-do attitude as Mary Jane “MJ” Bender. Three or four times a week, she hits the community pool at The Terraces of Los Gatos and methodically completes her laps. The hour-long sessions are muscle memory for her – a love of water cultivated nearly a century ago when she first started swimming as a toddler.

“You have it in your blood,” said MJ, who proudly sports a ‘Fabulous at 100’ mask. “We swam in oceans, lakes, and pools when I was a kid in Des Moines and all over the U.S. I just loved it.”

Her childhood was intimately linked with the outdoors. Playing ball with her siblings and climbing trees were favorite pastimes, including scaling the cherry tree in her backyard with a bucket during harvest time. While she isn’t climbing the trees at The Terraces, her passion for the water is as strong as ever.

“It’s just joy; I couldn’t be any different,” said MJ on her motivation to be active. “That’s the way I’ve been my whole life. If you’re not having a good time, what are you here for?”

It’s an energy and ethos her friends and neighbors can’t help but admire.

“I’ve been here 10 years, and I always say MJ is an inspiration,” said Linda Price, The Terraces’ director of sales. “Her positive energy is through the roof. She’s always on a mission from point A to point B – she’s just a spitfire.”

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