BEAVERCREEK — At nearly 103, Vivian Van Ausdal’s secret to longevity is food and bare feet.
Surrounded by family at her birthday party, the Beavercreek native — when asked what her secret was — responded, “I just ate.”
“My favorite food was … food,” she said.
Followed by laughs, her second piece of advice was: go barefoot.
Van Ausdal was born April 23, 1914 in Palestine, Ohio, grew up in Arcanum and graduated from high school in 1931.
“It was the time of the Great Depression,” her son, Paul Van Ausdal said, as he sat beside her. “Her family couldn’t afford for her to go off to college, so she [waited] a year. Then she went to Miami University and that was a very transforming experience for her.”
There, she earned her bachelor’s degree in pre-school education in 1937, according to the university.
Van Ausdal recalled meeting her best friend on the first day of school, with whom she stayed friends until her death two years ago.
In 1954, Van Ausdal moved to Beavercreek, where she raised her four boys with her husband Gerald Francis Van Ausdal. She was an English teacher at Beavercreek High School until her retirement in 1977.
“I always tell people that when she was teaching she had the wisdom to stay out of the teachers’ lounge that was blue with smoke,” Paul Van Ausdal said.
According to her son, she was a non-smoker, ate healthy, and was physically and mentally active.
Van Ausdal was also a Democratic candidate for the Ohio House of Representatives 10th District, a member of the Greene County Educational Service Committee, served as the board president of the Greene County Public Library and was a trustee of the Greene County Library Foundation. She was also a member of Hawker United Church of Christ and volunteered at Trinity Community for many years. In 2009 she moved to Trinity Community, where she lives now.
Mayor Bob Stone, who has known Van Ausdal since he was a child, presented a proclamation to honor her at the celebration.
“Vivian is just always doing something for somebody else. She’s always on the go,” he said.
Stone said it wasn’t a surprise to him that she had reached this milestone.
“To me she seems just as spry and healthy as she was 20 years ago.”
As Stone read the proclamation to Van Ausdal, he recited some of her slogans: “Keep your interest in everything. Don’t let anyone baby you. And do what you can.”