DOWNTOWN — Virginia Davis celebrated her birthday with a pretty special presidential gift, a gold pin hand delivered by secret service agents.
Of course, it was a pretty special birthday. The Santa Monica resident, turned 107 years old on Thursday.
Davis was born on Oct. 16, 1907 in New Castle, Delaware, a small city on the Delaware River.
After getting married, she and her husband packed their bags and moved over to the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles, which by then already established itself as the hub of the movie business.
She has lived in Los Angeles and Santa Monica ever since, totaling more than 70 years in the two cities.
During her lifetime countless historical events have occurred, including two world wars and humanity’s first missions into space.
“There’s so many things that have changed, it’s hard to express it,” Davis said.
In the United States itself, 18 presidents have served; including one’s whose inauguration she attended in Washington D.C. many years ago.
Her last experience with the nation’s leader occurred when President Barack Obama visited Cross Campus close to her home on the commander-in-chief’s visit to Santa Monica last week.
She was sitting on her wheelchair watching the president’s motorcade arrive when a secret service walked up and handed her a bright gold American flag pin that was reportedly from the president.
While Davis is doubtful of that fact, she still holds the pin proudly as an artifact from a storied life.
Davis said she worked until she was 90 years old and called herself a “workaholic,” even when she was making 25 cents an hour.
After retiring, Davis remained active, using the bus to get around town and paying bills and buying groceries.
A couple years ago Davis suffered two falls that limited her mobility and required the services of a caretaker.
Since then she now spends her leisure time writing and reading the newspaper, staying on top of current events.
Davis said even up to last year she used to regularly go to more seminars and speaking events, but recent health concerns have kept her at home more often.
Davis’ caretaker, Rebecca Montalban, 64, said that she has practically become family with the woman she has cared for almost three years.
“She’s not my real relative, but I treat her like one because of her compassion,” Montalban said. “She really is a considerate person.”
Davis has also kept an active social life, reigning for the last three years as queen of the annual 90 plus birthday party held at Griffith Park in November.
“She is a very simple lady, but still she is very sociable,” Montalban said. “Everyday she’s receiving mail and writing card and notes … everybody here loves her.”
Drawing from her wealth of experience, Davis said finding purpose in life is important, but so is staying true to your principles.
“For my advice I would say just one word-work,” Davis said. “Just concentrate on your work and be an honest person.”
When talking about the key to living a long time, Davis laughed, mentioning she gets the question a lot. But she attributed long life her to living a simple life of clean living and a healthy diet of vegetables and lean meats.
While she has never really been a smoker or a drinker, Davis said she does have one treat that contributes to her longevity.
“I do like a bowl of ice cream before bed,” she said grinning.