O’NEILL, NE — It must be the luck of the Irish.
O’Neill, Nebraska’s Irish Capital, is home to Evergreen Assisted Living, which has a unique claim. The facility is home to five residents over the age of 100, which they say is more than any other assisted living facility in the state.
The claim was enough to draw Governor Pete Ricketts to the senior care community on Saturday after walking in O’Neill’s St. Patrick’s parade. But if he was looking for the secret to a long life, he didn’t find it.
“You know, actually, they didn’t have a secret,” Ricketts said. “In fact, Dorothy said if she had a secret she would tell everybody.”
But he did gain some insight into what the residents experienced in life.
“You wouldn’t believe how tough it was back in the 1930s, we just really don’t have a concept of how bad it was back then,” Ricketts said. “Then I also got the chance to talk to a World War Two veteran about his experiences so it was really a nice visit.”
One of the Evergreen centenarians is 100 year old Alice Emry. She was happy the governor stopped by.
“It was kinda special, it was nice,” Emry said. “I was glad he got to come. It was an honor for us.”
Emry attributes her long life to the hard work she had to do growing up on a farm, but even she is surprised by the concentration of centenarians in a town of just 3700 people.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen one or two (people) over 100 in my lifetime and here there’s five of us,” Emry said.