Atherton resident Lou Matis celebrates his 100th birthday surrounded by family and friends
Tomorrow — January 30, 2014 — Atherton resident Lou Matis turns 100 years old. As has been the custom, his long-time neighbor Doug Anderson organized a party at Harry’s Hofbrau last night that brought together dozens of Lou’s friends and family. His Model A Club — yes, Lou loves “cranking up my Model A and going for a tour with my buddies” — is honoring him later this week.
It’s justifiable fuss for a man who still has a twinkle in his eye and a sound mind and body, although a recent bout of pneumonia has set him back — but just a bit. He’s outlived his five siblings, his wife of almost 50 years, and one of his two daughters. He lives alone on a quiet Atherton street in the house he moved into in 1972, where we visited with him in advance of the planned celebrations.
The obvious question: What’s the secret of his longevity?
“My thinking is that you get something from your father and something from your mother,” Lou says. “From there on, it’s mostly how you conduct your life. All things in moderation.”
Lou is not now, nor has he ever been a sit-around-the-house kind of guy. He quit Balboa High School during the Depression so he could help support the family. He had a long and successful career as a carpenter/builder.
“In the evenings I used to study on my own,” he says, referring to his lack of formal education. “I took some night classes. Call it a bit of native intelligence. I was successful in my line of work.”
A fervent San Francisco Giants fan — and before that a Seals fan — Lou still gets to a few games a year. He’s also a 49ers fan, as disappointed as the rest of us about this year’s playoff results.
And then there is the singing, much in abundance at the party last night. “We do a lot of music together,” says Doug. The neighbors can be spotted at Esther’s German Bakery in Los Altos the second Thursday of every month where there’s a German songfest. Tuesday nights are devoted to the Happy Time Banjos group.
For a man with plenty of energy, it’s a bit odd to hear him sum up his long life in this way: “I run out of gas when I explain my idea of longevity.”