Sam Lanzarota turned 100 years old on Monday.
Until three months ago, he was a regular at Fitness Unlimited.
Lanzarota would drive to the Maple Ridge gym three days a week to work out. He had his own circuit for strength training and would socialize with the other older men at the gym, although none of them were close to his own age.
He has been such an inspiration that his friends at the gym put together a special plaque that they presented to him on Monday.
The plaque is approximately 12 inches by 18 inches and has a picture of Lanzarota on it taken last year on his 99th birthday. Below the picture is a tribute to his tenacity and character.
“A true gentleman, with a quick smile, Sam is someone you will meet, and will never forget,” reads the last sentence of the tribute.
“He’s got a phenomenal memory recall. He fought in World War Two with the Canadian army in the Italian campaign and he remembers dates and times. He’s got some amazing stories to share,” said Daryl Stone, one of his many friends at the gym.
Lanzarota was 24 when he fought with the Canadian Forces mission in Sicily.
He also worked on building the iconic horse clock along Dewdney Trunk Road in Maple Ridge. Lanzarota worked on the hydraulic system that made the horse move.
“He’s really inspired the guys at the gym just by virtue of his presence, his demeanor, his fitness profile,” continued Stone, adding that Lanzarota would make time for anyone who stopped to talk to him.
“People like that. They like what he says and how he says it. Whether he’s talking about the Kootenays back in the late ‘40s early ‘50s or the machine shop he used to run in Castlegar,” said Stone.
“I didn’t expect this big a crowd,” laughed Lanzarota from behind a tray of cupcakes each with a lit candle on top.
Three months ago, Lanzarota moved into Brentwood Manor in Coquitlam, where his daughter and son-in-law live only 10 minutes away.
The facility has a gym in the building and Lanzarota goes down every day after breakfast to work out.
“I do several stretches and lifting and leg work, as well,” explained the centenarian.
Friends have already been telling him they will see him at his 101st birthday.
“I tell them, no more small stuff. From now on we have to wait until 200,” he laughed.
The plaque will be displayed on a wall inside the gym at Fitness Unlimited.