This week, an Albany State University alumnus and Waycross, Ga. resident will reach a milestone. Clano Stephens, will celebrate his 100th birthday this week. Stephens joins a growing number of centenarians in the U.S. according to an article in today’s Huffington Post. America’s population of centenarians – the largest in the world – has roughly doubled in the past 20 years (to 72,000) and is projected to at least double again by 2020, according to the Census Bureau.
A party to toast the honoree’s birthday will be held at noon, Wednesday, Sept. 12 at his home in the presence of ASU alumni and staff, family and friends.
In 1931, Stephens graduated from Georgia Normal and Agricultural College, (renamed Albany State University) under the leadership of founding President Dr. Joseph Winthrop Holley.
The Terrell County, Ga. native credits his health, vitality and longevity to handling life’s necessities in moderation. During an interview published in last year’s fall issue of ASU’s Aspire magazine he said, “I eat everything. I don’t have any special diet, but I am careful not to over eat. I’ve never been much of a drinker, though I would occasionally have a social drink. I just try to live in a sensible way.” His lifestyle confirms the latest information of aging experts. “The rise in 100-year-olds is attributed largely to better medical care and the dramatic drop in childhood-mortality rates since the early 1900s,” said Thomas Perls in the article. Perls is the director of the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University. Centenarians also have good genes on their side, he said, and have made common-sense health decisions, such as not smoking and keeping their weight down.
Stephens’ began college at the small school for African American students at age 13. Back then, housing costs were $12 per month. He worked his way through college at a job that paid 10 cents an hour coupled with earnings from handling maintenance duties in the men’s dormitory, a foundation for modern day work study.
Extracurricular activities included playing in the band and membership in the drama club.
After graduation, he held teaching positions in Bronwood and Edison, Ga. He was also a school principal in Morgan, Ga. From there, Stephens worked for the Atlanta Life Insurance Company; and in 1943 the ASU graduate joined the Army and served until 1945. He owned several enterprises including a motel, restaurant, automated car wash and a night club.