By Deb Alberto
For Hometown News
VIERA -- According to Berkeley scholars, the life expectancy in 1910 was 48.4 years old.
Viera resident Bernie Hutten has more than doubled those odds, and will celebrate his 104th birthday in March.
His secret to longevity?
"I never smoked a cigarette, I never drank alcohol, and I golfed damn near every day," Mr. Hutten said.
This is not to say, he hasn't had close calls. In his early 20s, he suffered a football injury, was hospitalized, and caught tuberculosis, while in the hospital. This led to a six-month stint in a sanatorium.
"Back then, the treatment was bed rest. He had to lie flat on his back for six months," said his wife of 61 years, Helen Hutten.
A recent fall resulted in a lower back fracture, limiting Mr. Hutten's mobility, and causing him considerable pain. At 91, and probably half his size, his wife, Helen, helps lift him into and out of his chair.
"My wife - she's a gem," Mr. Hutten said.
She spends her days as a caregiver, and yet still manages to golf at least twice a week.
"I can't trust anyone to care for him the way I do," she said.
Mr. Hutten was an avid athlete, who enjoyed tennis and football, but his favorite game has always been golf.
In fact, when courting Helen, who he met at a dance, his golf game took precedence until she set him straight.
"Every time he asked me on a date, it was for Sunday," she said. "I finally had to tell him: 'I'm available on Saturday night.' That's when he told me he didn't often go out on Saturdays because he got up early on Sundays to play golf."
She eventually learned to play golf and they became lifelong partners on the greens.
Mr. Hutten had to give up his golf game at age 97, but sometimes rides along in the golf cart to watch his sweetheart play.
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Mr. Hutten, along with his five siblings, was raised by a single mother, after his father was killed when he was just 2 years old.
The Huttens suffered their own tragedy, when the son they adopted at age 19 months, joined the U.S. Army and was killed in a construction accident in Alabama, while working with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers at 21 years old.
The memory still brings tears to their eyes, but Mrs. Hutten is quick to retrain her thoughts on the positive.
"Yes, we have had sadness, but you know, overall, we have had a really good life. We've traveled the world, and when we retired to Brevard County, we bought a boat and fished and shrimped, and have a lot of friends," she said.
Mr. Hutten will celebrate his birthday among more than 300 friends from their community in Grand Isle, a 55+ community in Viera, with the theme "Young at Heart."