Sandy resident looks forward to ‘the next 100 years’ with wife
Mar 09, 2020 02:03PM
By Heather Lawrence
Tony Borrero, center, poses with loved ones at his 100th birthday party. He’s joined by his wife Vina (flower shirt) and their sons Mike (glasses) and Anthony (beard). (Heather Lawrence/City Journals)
By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]
In a room full of family, friends and cake, Tony Borrero celebrated his 100th birthday Feb. 9 at Cedarwood at Sandy senior living. Tony and his wife, Vina, age 97, sat at the table of honor. Acting and looking more like a youthful 80, the Borreros talked with guests and posed for pictures.
“My dad is definitely part of the greatest generation. If anyone compliments me, I tell them that any good character traits I have, I got from my parents. His work ethic, his sense of family — it all came from them. He’s a marvelous father,” said Tony’s son Mike Borrero of West Jordan.
“I came from a big family and was born in California. I was the second to youngest of nine children. My parents were from Puerto Rico,” Tony said.
Tony made his way to Utah and joined the military. In Salt Lake, he met and married Vina (Ludivina), his wife of nearly 74 years. She was happy to take on the military lifestyle.
“We were stationed in Casablanca, Morroco for three years, Japan, Wyoming, Ohio and several places in California. I enjoyed it,” Vina said. Apart from the assignments, they’ve lived in California and Salt Lake City most of their lives.
The Borreros have two sons, Mike and Anthony. Anthony, like many family members, lives in California and made a special trip for the birthday party.
“My parents are so loving. They take care of each other. My dad is a mentor, always there to talk to. I’m proud to know him and proud of the way he treats people. He’s lived a good life,” Anthony said.
Vina’s youngest sister Mary visits once a week. “When they got married, I was sad because [Tony] was taking away my big sister! We wrote letters to each other, and he sent me riddles to see if I could write back with the answer. He’s been easy-going all his life, good-natured and had a good attitude. I think that’s what’s kept him around this long,” Mary said.
Tony served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years as an airplane mechanic, and then another 20 in the Reserves. He lived through Pearl Harbor, and “missed the death march by two days.” His many medals had pride of place at the party. He also worked for the civil service.
Turning 100 years old means you see a lot of history, and you outlive most of your peers. “We’ve lost a lot of good friends. We’re survivors,” Tony said.
It was fitting that the family gathered in honor of Tony and Vina — great-nephew Joe Jefferies said the Borreros often hosted family gatherings in California. “They would always bring the family together,” Jefferies said.
Vina’s niece Juanita Drew is a caregiver along with Mike. She remembers when the Borreros came to California in 1965. “They came from the military, and taught us kids to say ‘yes, sir’ and ‘thank you, sir.’ That was the way to answer,” Drew said.
“When my mother, Vina’s sister, passed, she asked one thing of me: she asked me to promise to take care of [Tony and Vina], to watch out for them. That’s all it took,” Drew said.
Tony kept a journal most of his life, and shared his memoirs with his family several years ago. “He always said, ‘A short pencil is better than a long memory,’” said nephew Christopher Ramos.
Tony laughed. “Yes, I said that.”
Vina’s tips on a long life are to be happy, take care of each other and socialize a lot. Tony’s secret is, “I learned to say, ‘yes, dear.’”
Tony enjoyed his party. “We’ve been visiting with all our friends and family, and having a good time. To tell you the truth, I feel great. I could do another hundred years. We’ve had a very good life. We’re looking forward to the next hundred.”