Huskey celebrates 100 years

Life Care Center of Jefferson City resident Joseph Huskey celebrated his 100th birthday during a reception in the dining hall of the facility on Wednesday. Top row, from left to right, Lifecare Executive Director Juan Miranda and Activities Director Michelle Whitelaw. Bottom row, from left to right, nephew Wayne Cooper, Huskey and niece Susan Cooper.

According to those who know Joseph Huskey, the power of positivity is what has allowed him to live as long as he has.

Life Care of Jefferson City helped Huskey celebrate his 100th birthday with a party attended by staff, living family members and Huskey’s fellow residents. Adorned in the familiar orange of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, the party featured orange balloons and a cake with the UT logo.

“There are only a few people who live to be 100,” Huskey said. “I’ve seen war, and I’ve seen peace.

“It’s been a good life.”

Michelle Whitelaw, Life Care activities director, said Huskey is remarkably active and observant for a centenarian.

“Joe is very alert,” she said. “He always tries to educate us on our fitness, and he’s extremely healthy.”

Huskey was born in Cosby in Cocke County. During World War II, he served as a chemical engineer in the U.S. Navy, stationed stateside as part of the James River Reserve Naval Fleet near Washington, D.C. Huskey’s job during the war was testing the waters of the D.C. area to prevent possible chemical warfare by the Axis Powers (Germany, Japan and Italy).

Huskey has earned degrees from both UT and Maryville College, and worked as a chemical engineer for City Services Corporation, a mining operation in Copperhill, near Chattanooga, for over three decades before retiring. After that, he and wife Carolyn owned and operated a Radio Shack electronics store for several years.

He has served as the former president of the Lions Club, and commander of American Legion Post 0096 in Copperhill.

One of the things Huskey has noticed over the years as a former chemical engineer is many commonly used objects aren’t made as sturdy and long-lasting as they used to be.

“I remember when the (tires) on cars were made of solid rubber,” he said. “Now they’re made of all kinds of different stuff, and they always seem to blow out.

“Things were made a lot better back then than they are now.”

When Carolyn, his wife, a Carson-Newman graduate and retired teacher, died five years ago, Joseph Huskey lived in his home alone for four years until deciding on his own to enter Life Care last year at the age of 99. Whitelaw said since becoming a resident, Huskey has been anything but a lonely shell among his peers and staff – and always has a pleasant word for every person who crosses his path.

“He’s very active, and he loves to sing,” Whitelaw said. “He’s never unpleasant, and he’s very big about his faith.

“We enjoy seeing him every day.”

Huskey credits his longevity to adhering to a strict diet, avoiding fried and processed foods over the years. With that fact in mind, Life Care staff presented him with a fruit basket as a birthday present.

“(The fruit basket) is pretty neat,” Huskey said. “I don’t eat anything but fruit, fowl, nuts and vegetables.

“You can get plenty of meals from that.”

Whitelaw said it’s the combination of his positive attitude and lifestyle that has kept him going – and she expects him to celebrate even more birthdays.

“Joe’s lived a healthy lifestyle, and it shows,” she said. “We normally get our residents roses for their birthdays, but we got him fruit for his birthday because he loves fruit so much.”