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Murray Journal

Murray Centenarian Fay Grover attributes longevity to eating healthy…and chocolate

Aug 03, 2022 08:30PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

It was only two in the afternoon, and Fay Grover had received her fifth phone call from a funeral home. Why the intense interest in Mrs. Grover? Whether it is predatory business practices or good marketing, those morticians might want to make themselves comfortable, as this centenarian shows no signs of stopping.

Upon greeting you in her Murray home, she invites you to have a seat, but she would prefer to stand. She can still get around without using a walker or even a cane. Unsure whether this is a good idea for somebody born during the Warren G. Harding presidential administration to remain standing, you can invite her to sit too, but beware, she will take a seat at her piano.

“I am 100 years, eight months, one week, and four days old,” Grover said without pausing. “I was born on ‘politicians day.’” Or, in other words, Election Day—something this lifelong Democrat still pays particular attention to.

From memory, she plays a rousing rendition of “I Remember You From Somewhere” and then transitions to another tune she played when her husband, Elmo, came home from the Marines after World War II. She has a small end table crammed with sheet music that seems of little use, as she perfectly recalls numerous melodies.

Growing up, she remembers playing with a younger boy in her school whose name was Orrin Hatch. She also remembers listening to President Franklin Roosevelt’s radio broadcast that proclaimed December 7, 1941, as “the date which shall live in infamy.”

She grows bored of the piano and hops off to give visitors a tour of her century of memories. The first stop is a picture of Salt Lake City’s Washington Elementary, where she taught for decades. If she had you as a student, for better or worse, she remembers you. She can recall some who went on to become judges and others who probably went on to appear before a judge.

“I was one of the first teachers to work with the Vietnamese refugees after the Vietnam War,” Grover said. “I worked with them to make sure they could help their families.”

She wasn’t always a teacher. She remembers working as a teenager at the elegant and graceful Salt Aire, which was far different from today’s successor. “I took tickets, and it cost 15 cents to enter and play for the whole day,” Grover said. 

An astute observer of politics, she reads books on current affairs. She recently completed three books and is midway through Bob Woodward’s latest book “Rage.” She would like to use her desktop computer more, but it is not fast enough.

“This thing is so outdated. I have to use my laptop,” Grover said.

She likely wore the computer out while building the genealogy library she has put together. Active in her Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ward, she has compiled photographs and stories of her family history. Her history collection goes beyond a book or even a bookshelf, but bookcases of information collected over decades.

Speaking of collections, she has a display case of family mementos that are much more personal than valuable. One particular relic is the cake from her parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. What makes that actual cake ironic is that it is the 50th-anniversary cake’s 50th anniversary.

Grover is holding on to another keepsake from her children, Thomas, Linda, and Kathleen, that she considers a bit of a miracle. Eight months, one week, and four days ago, she got balloons for her 100th birthday, and they are still inflated, albeit droopy.

Genetics likely played a key role in her making it to the century mark, as her father did; and her mother made it to 90 years. She also attributes her longevity to advice she received from her dad:

“My father believed that food cured everything,” Grover said. “Every day, I try to eat something from the three food groups—milk, fruit and vegetables, and chocolate. Especially chocolate cupcakes.”