Fri08222014

Local senior dancing all the way to 100

Photo Special To The Town Crier

Los Altos resident Regina Isbell, who enjoys line dancing, turns 100 on Sunday.

Regina Isbell turns 100 on Sunday, but the way she moves, you would never suspect it.

Especially when she line dances. Yes, line dances. Isbell faithfully arrives every Tuesday at the Los Altos Senior Center for her dance lessons, a weekly routine that goes back eight years.

"My motto is, ‘Keep on dancing,' said the active 99-year-old, a 55-year resident of Los Altos.

Isbell ascribes her longevity to "good genes," especially on her mother's side, where family members lived well into their 90s.

The native San Franciscan said she's always loved dancing.

"I've been dancing since I was (old) enough to put a record on my phonograph," Isbell said.

Still sharp, friendly and full of good humor, Isbell fondly remembers her youth, when she went dancing to Big Bands in San Francisco and Santa Cruz. When the Cocoanut Grove in Santa Cruz celebrated its 80th anniversary with a television advertisement, Isbell saw a photograph of dancers that looked familiar.

"Look, there, that's me," she said. "I went dancing every weekend."

She misses the dinner and dancing venues, along with such swinging bandleaders as Anson Weeks ("Come dancin' with Anson," she recalled the catch phrase), and yes, Lawrence Welk. She's still a bit disappointed in her local public television station for pulling Welk show reruns off the air.

She remains independent, living in the same North Los Altos neighborhood home she and her husband, Lawrence, moved into in 1954. Isbell has a knack for remembering details, like the 11 apricot trees that once occupied their backyard. She apparently has no need for a GPS, because she knows exactly what street is connected to another and which house or business is on that street. Until this year, when she could not pass the driver's exam due to poor vision, Isbell had been driving her own car.

She grew up in the Mission District and attended San Francisco State University. She worked as a teacher for 11 years before settling down to raise a family. Her son, Steven, in his 60s, visits her often and is planning a party for her birthday. Her neighbors also threw a party for her, as did the senior center.

"As long as I have my son and my three beautiful grandchildren, I feel lucky," Isbell said.

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