Aspire to be young at heart

Living in a college town, we have a smorgasbord of wonderful concerts to choose from—so many, in fact, that we can’t possibly attend all of them.
But two recent concerts still stick in my mind.
The first one was a clarinet and piano recital performed by our friends, John and Walt. And the second was the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra conducted by Daryl “Flea” Campbell, a Broadway veteran and Sinatra trumpet accompanist.
Walt and John played classic pieces by Saint-Saens, Debussy, and Poulenc, as well as fun music like the “Flight of the Bumble Bee.” The clarinet sang out in the concert hall with a mellow sound.
In fact, the piano and clarinet were so attuned to each other that they often sounded like one voice—a product of John and Walt practising together every week for 10 years.
The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, on the other hand, was quite a different kind of music, but still lots of fun, too. They played our favourite “oldies”—“Swanee River,” “Night and Day,” and “I’ll Never Smile Again.”
Tunes made famous by Dorsey and great singers like Frank Sinatra.
What made these two concerts special, in addition to the pleasure of great music, was that Walt, John, and “Flea” all are in their 70s or 80s. At a time in life when many people give up, these three great musicians are giving pleasure to many people.
It seemed especially appropriate when the youthful “Flea” Campbell led the Dorsey band in the classic tune “Young at Heart.”
“Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you . . . if you’re young at heart. . . . Don’t you know that it’s worth every treasure on Earth . . . to be young at heart. . . .
“And if you should survive to 105 . . . you have a head start . . . if you are among the very young at heart.”
Indeed, this musical wisdom is right on target. Most people who live to be healthy centenarians do feel “young at heart.”
Among them is 105-year-old physician and entrepreneur Russell B. Clark. Last December, he was guest lecturer in the Executive Lecture Series at Southern Virginia University, which features successful and influential persons who share their experiences and motivate students.
At age 83, Clark retired from his medical practice but continued to manage real estate holdings. At age 103, he was recognized as “America’s Oldest Worker” by the United States Department of Labor.
And at 104, he won ribbons for the 50-m and 400-m events in the Huntsman World Senior Games.
In his address, Clark shared a list of 17 guidelines for “Staying Young at Heart.” Among his tips: invite yourself to live, practice preventive medicine, stay involved, seek ways to develop friendship, reach out to help others, and take one step at a time.
He also advised the students to live with gusto—keep your choice in clothing stylish and greet everyone you meet with a smile.
Finally, Clark challenged the students to make their own lists of how to be “young at heart.”
Obviously, Clark practices what he preaches because Southern Virginia University’s website reported the students enjoyed this 105-year-old’s “vivacious personality.”
So here are four excellent role models: John, Walt, “Flea,” and 105-year-old Russell Clark. Why not follow in their footsteps and strive every day to be “young at heart?”
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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