100-year-old credits positivity for long life

William John Beerwinkel with his step-daughter Priscilla Fry.

William John Beerwinkel celebrated his 100th birthday with the residents at the GH Starck old-age home in Hanover Park on Thursday April 16.

They were served lunch and cake and tea by his step-daughter, Priscilla Fry, and entertained by a Christmas band.

Mr Beerwinkel grew up on a farm in Saron on the West Coast. His mother, Christina, died at an early age and William was 12 when he and his father, Soloman, moved to Cape Town in search of work.

He worked with his father at a leather-making company and later at a printing shop for 15 years. He retired in his late 60s after working as a driver.

Mr Beerwinkel married his first wife in his 20s and she died 10 years later, after the couple had adopted two children.

He married his second wife when he was in his late 30s and had one daughter, Rosyln. She died in 2010 in a car accident.

He married his third wife, Levina Winifred, in 1992 and the couple stayed in Athlone and were together for 18 years before she died at 72. Ms Fry described her step-father as a very religious man and he and his wife had held prayer meetings at people’s homes.

He was a preacher at the Methodist Church in Athlone for seven years and sang bass in the church’s men’s choir.

“He was always a very particular man, very neat and tidy and was the type of person who would polish the wheels of his car. He was a very proud man,” she said.

Later, the couple moved to Ruyterwacht, where Mr Beerwinkel was head of the chapelry for seven years, before turning to Athlone.

Mr Beerwinkel drove until he was 92 and, apart from arthritis, has been largely free of illness.

He never smoked or drank and maintains that it is his positive attitude that has seen him reach such an advanced age.

He has been at GH Starck since 2011.

“He is a people’s person and a very caring and patient man and I really appreciate the way he looked after my mom. They did everything together and enjoyed going to church together,” Ms Fry said.

Mr Beerwinkel relishes jelly and custard and chocolate which he had for his birthday last year.

“I love this place and the nurses are lovely. They take good care of me and I feel very grateful and uplifted,” he said.