Treasure Zimmerman, at a youthful 103, exemplifies joy. 

Sitting down with The Coronado News, she told stories of how she used to be a pilot back in the day when there weren’t many women flying planes. 

“That was really fun for me,” she said. 

Zimmerman was among a panel of centenarians who shared their wisdom and keys to living a long happy life during a standing room only event at the Coronado Public Library on July 21.  

Married during World War II

Zimmerman, in a recent interview, talked about how she grew up in Kansas and married her husband during World War II.

She watched her husband and followed him as he learned to become a paratrooper.

When her husband got out of the service, Zimmerman and her husband moved to Long Beach, and her husband began to go into business with his uncles and that’s when Zimmermann and her husband had found an opportunity to buy an airplane.

They had bought a plane that had been previously damaged, but they put it in their backyard and Zimmerman’s son and husband worked on repairing it for a year, she said.

Little interest in flying

At the time, Zimmerman said she didn’t have much interest in getting her pilot’s license although her husband really wanted her too.

One day, as they were flying over Long Beach, her husband said to her:  “Look down there. Well, I want to ask you a question: ‘If I had a heart attack right now and died right now in this seat, what would you do?’” 

Zimmerman says  the next morning she began learning to fly an airplane. 

Flew in Powder Puff Derby

Zimmerman ended up falling in love with flying and flew in the Powder Puff Derby, the name given to an annual transcontinental air race for women pilots that originated in 1947.

She participated in the  all-women’s cross country race from Bakersfield to Atlantic City, New Jersey, she said. And she was a co-pilot for one of her friends, and they ended up getting 11th place out of 60 planes, she said.

Zimmerman has been in Coronado for about 17 years, and  previously was a substitute P.E. teacher  in Indio.

Staying physically fit

She said she even had a drill team of 72 kids, and she noted how important it is to engage in physical activity for our health and livelihood. 

 “What  I would tell kids how to live this long is to just keep breathing,” she said. 

 She thinks there is not one thing that will help you to live to 103,  but she does believe her physical education teaching has strengthened her body and helped her mobility.

Zimmerman still walks her dog three or four times a day and makes sure to keep her body and mind active. 

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Fiona Rasak is a senior multi-media journalism major graduating in May from Point Loma Nazarene University. Previously she worked as a staff writer for the Point Newspaper and the Mariner yearbook.