Chipps celebrates 100th birthday

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There have been a few changes in Courtland since Allan Chipps was born there.

"The city of Courtland," Chipps smiled, celebrating his 100th birthday Friday at the Tillsonburg Senior Centre.

"Titan Trailers is putting a huge plant in there," he noted. "A huge plant."

They didn't have factories of that size, or new subdivisions when he grew up in the village east of Tillsonburg.

A graduate of Courtland Public School, he was working in a military factory when he enlisted in 1941. Starting as a mechanic in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), he upgraded his Grade 8 education and took a pilot's course for a year and a half, but didn't get posted.

He decided to switch careers and became a navigator, earned his 'wings' and was assigned to Burma, but the Second World War ended before he went overseas.

After the war he returned to Tillsonburg, then moved to Stratford for 30 years making a living as a mechanic. He continued flying Cornells, then a Stinson until he was 87.

He moved back to Tillsonburg in 2016 where he is a member of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 153.

"I don't have any story for you, just being old," said Chipps Friday morning after receiving a Certificate of Recognition from Mayor Stephen Molnar. "One hundred years... it took a long time to get here.

"I'm unemployed now, so I can't tell you any stories about work," he laughed.

What does Chipps do to keep busy these days?

"I go to a coffee shop every morning, 6:30. McDonald's... can we advertise them? I don't know what time they open in the morning, but they're open when we get there. Some young fellow around town gives me a ride. I'm blind, I can't drive. I've just got a little peripheral vision - if I turn sideways I can see a bit. I can't see TV unless I get my nose right into it."

He often enjoys hamburger lunches at Tillsonburg Regional Airport's Skyway Cafe.

"My granddaughter's a cook out there."

He is also active at the Tillsonburg Senior Centre, noted administrator Nancy Boutin.

"He comes here a couple times a week, typically for fitness," said Boutin. "He's one of our newer members, I think it's only been in the last couple of years. But when he comes for fitness, honestly, he runs circles around some of us. He's pretty inspirational.

"He does the more intense cardio fitness here. They do a lot of cardio, they're on their feet constantly, they very rarely sit down on a chair for anything. They work on balance, they work on strength, they do a lot of things to build coordination. And yet he very, very rarely misses a class. I think he takes the T:GO bus to get here - he takes getting here very seriously.

"He's got a really good sense of humor. He's not just physically strong, but mentally he's really sharp. And that's what you hope for," said Boutin, "if you're going to live to be 100. You hope that you have that kind of sharpness."

"Three mornings a week as a rule," nodded Chipps, who also has a treadmill and bowflex at home for keeping up his fitness - he currently lives in Tillsonburg with his youngest daughter Lynn Mudford - spending up to an hour a day on the machines.

"In the summertime I do a lot of walking."

Staying active is something he plans to continue on his way to 101.

"I don't have a clock on that. And the expiry date is not written yet either."



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