By Dave Schwab
Nicholas Nassir, who doesn’t look — nor act — a day over 70, observed his 100th birthday on Dec. 19. But he didn’t depart much from his usual routine: breakfast at Harry’s Coffee Shop in La Jolla then on to work a couple of hours with his son at Phone Ware in Kearny Mesa (formerly in Bird Rock).
A few folks stopped by for breakfast who might not otherwise be there to help him celebrate becoming a centenarian.
“He’s a very nice man,” commented John Rudolph, who runs the family owned and operated business about his long-lived patron. “He comes in five days a week. Always sits at the counter.”
Rudolph said Nassir has special qualities including a remarkable memory. “He remembers all the waitresses and busboys,” he said. “There aren’t too many customers who make that sort of effort.”
Asked what he was going to do special for his 100th birthday, Nassir good-naturedly quipped, “breathe.” Then he added, “I’m gonna feed my face with birthday cake.”
Born in Brooklyn, in 1911, Nassir, who grew up in Pennsylvania, was the son of an orthodox Christian minister. He said he came out to California when he got married for his honeymoon, and he and his bride liked it so much they decided to stay. They started out living in San Francisco, then worked their way south down the coast.
Nassir’s 67-year-old son, Bill, said his dad, who is recognized as an expert in the oil refining business, owns three patents.
The secret to his longevity? “Dad exercises every day for an hour very religiously,” Bill said. “So he’s getting blood to his system every day. When I asked him how he reached 100 years, his mantra was ‘activity, activity, activity, of mind, body and soul,’ then he said, ‘I try to be simple. I only believe in activity and inactivity. Inactivity is when they plant you six feet under and you’re looking at the daisies from the wrong side up.”
The United States has the greatest number of centenarians in the world with an estimated 70,490 as of Sept. 1, 2010. Japan is next with 47,756 at that time.