At age 90, Art Elder is still working to brighten lives
Editor’s note: The Light reported on Art Elder in the June 16 issue, briefly highlighting his many contributions to the community under the headline: “World War II veteran may be oldest active church deacon in town.”
The story revealed that Elder continues to head the Mount Soledad Presbyterian Church food drive, make repairs to the building, be a Sunday greeter, and serve a three-year term as deacon. Elder also built the church’s floor-to-ceiling wooden cross, and through the years has given 48 pints of blood to the church’s blood drive. In an effort to learn his secrets to longevity and success, we asked him to contribute the 10 Questions column below.
As a teenager, Art met his later-to-be wife, Lois, at a church function. She graduated from Southern Methodist University during the war and became an airline stewardess with Braniff Airlines. At the end of the war, the couple married. They were married for 63 years until Lois’ death in 2008.
Though Elder is retired, he remains active in woodworking projects, volunteering with the Mount Soledad Presbyterian Church, and visiting family and friends.
He has five children, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
What brought you to San Diego?
On completion of my flight training in Corpus Christi, Texas in 1942, the Navy ordered me to San Diego for operational training on the PBY (seaplane squadron flying the PBY-5A Catalina). During my time in the Navy, I served several tours of duty at NAS Kearney, now MSAS Miramar, and we enjoyed the area so much that we decided we would retire here, which we did in 1973.
What makes the area special to you?
Everything … friends, Navy facilities, weather and location.
What might you add, subtract or improve in the area?
Not a thing.
Who or what inspires you?
That would be my family, friends, church, health, and the fact that I am enjoying life so much.
If you hosted a dinner party for eight whom (living or deceased) would you invite?
1 and 2) My parents, whose love and genes created me as an eternal optimist; 3) Davy Crockett, my first flight instructor in the Navy and a great friend; 4) Agnes Edwards, my high school Latin teacher who was an unforgettable and outstanding role model of a teacher;
5) Bill Morehouse, my best friend in grade school, high school and college. He was killed on the beach in Normandy on the D-Day invasion of France; 6) Tom Hyland, a great friend and combat pilot, who was my tent mate at Guadalcanal in 1943; 7) Helen Keller; a friend of my mother, who demonstrated to the world what can be achieved through dedication and integrity, regardless of physical limitations; and “Jig Dog” Ramage, who was my wing commander in 1960, and an outstanding leader of men. The Tailhook Association established the annual “Jig Dog” Ramage Award to recognize the air wing-aircraft carrier team with the best performance as an integrated unit and excellence in Navy carrier operations.
What are your five favorite movies of all time?
“The Best Years of Our Lives,” “Ben Hur,” “For Whom the Bells Toll,” “To Catch a Thief,” and “True Grit.”
What is your most prized possession?
My memory. God have me an excellent memory.
What do you do for fun?
I encourage friends to enjoy life.
Describe your greatest accomplishment.
I have no great accomplishments. The greatest achievement is having a family that I am proud of.
What is your motto or philosophy of life?
“Damn the torpedoes …. Full speed ahead.”
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