Deachman: The secret to a long life? Eggs, milk and gin-tonics

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Don Lomer credits his father, Theo, with much of his longevity. Dr. Theodore A. Lomer was Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health for 35 years, from 1913 to 1948, and taught his children early on the importance of healthy eating.

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« Even now, » Don says, « I eat eggs and drink milk like there’s no tomorrow. »

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Not that tomorrows were rare throughout Don’s life. On November 10 of this year, fate wills it, he will wake up tomorrow to his 36,525th birthday and begin his second century on this planet, a time he admits may have only been halfway past. until his time is finally exhausted.

He likes to joke that a life of debauchery has kept him going and, in addition to dairy, insists that gin and tonics have had a positive effect. « The tonic stops malaria, lime juice prevents scurvy, gin prevents snakebites, and ice prevents dehydration and heat prostration, » he says. « And I know it works because I’ve never been bitten by a snake, and I’ve never had malaria or scurvy. »

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His quick wit is matched by a firm handshake and a vivid memory. Don lives alone in a high-rise building near Bayshore. Her apartment is decorated with many original works of art, more than a few, including a watercolor of her own design, depicting boats and water. Until two years ago he owned and operated his own boat, a 26ft Rosborough, one of many that complemented his lifelong passion for them. The first boat he owned was a one-piece, nine-foot birchbark canoe his father gave him when he was barely out of numbers, which Don and a friend (Andy McKenna, says he, his almost frightening memory) took shortly after. camping, paddling to Smiths Falls and back together.

“It’s just 60 miles,” he recalls, “it doesn’t matter. But no one would let a 10-year-old do that today.

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He jokes that he is one of the first baby boomers, born in the years immediately following World War I. He grew up on Linden Terrace in the Glebe, near Patterson Creek, the waters of which he crisscrossed in his canoe. He attended St. Patrick’s College High School, where he wrestled. He also joined the Canadian Officer Training Corps while in high school and applied to join the Royal Canadian Navy, but caught the flu during his exam and was unable to complete it.

It was during World War II that Don went from water to water. He was in his car with his girlfriend on Bate Island, he recalls, listening to the radio when news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor broke. « I got really mad and thought, ‘This is not right. We have to do something. So I joined.’

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World War II veteran Don Lomer turns 100 on November 10, 2022.
World War II veteran Don Lomer turns 100 on November 10, 2022. Photo by provided /Courtesy of Barb Lomer

In March 1942, he took the train to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and joined there. Three days later he was on a ship bound for England.

He had joined the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm, where he hoped to serve in the skies above Europe, but failed his navigation course and so ended up – where else? — in the water, as a clearance diver.

Dressed in a Sladen (nicknamed Clammy Death) wetsuit fitted with a universal oxygen rebreather and boots weighing 40 pounds each, Don’s job was to walk along the harbor beds and clear them of mines and unexploded traps, first in England and later. the continent, in Belgium, Poland and Germany.

It was cold, dark and dangerous work, he recalls. “There was a lot of stress, more than any other job I’ve ever had. But we have been trained. And I can tell you one thing: when you went to a conference, you paid attention.

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This is how he met his wife, Naomi Tucker, or Tux. Wren’s only surveyor in the Hydrographic Department of the Royal Navy, the Plymouth office where she made maps and charts of ports was in the same building as Don’s unit.

“One day, I arrived on a motorbike,” he recalls. « I had been at work somewhere, and I got off the bike and looked up. I don’t know why. But there was a girl staring at me. And when she saw me staring, she turned his head away.

Eventually he found her, introduced herself, and asked her to go to the movies.

« I’m engaged, » she replied.

« I’m not asking you to run away with me, » he replied. « Just for a movie. »

They became friends.

« That was the start, » he says.

Don returned to Ottawa after the war, while Tux went to work for the Southhampton Harbor Board. It might have ended there had not Don’s mother, Gertrude, invited Tux to visit in 1947. Exactly three months after Ottawa newspapers noted on their social pages Tux’s arrival, his engagement with Don were announced. They were married on January 31, 1948, and children Barb and Robert eventually arrived. Tux died in 2000.

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Don, on the other hand, had a long career in Ottawa in radio and television advertising, including 13 years at CKOY, five at CKPM (later changed to CFGO) and another 13 at CJOH/CTV. He retired in 1983.

Meanwhile, at age 55, he took up squash, which he practiced until he was 75.

This year on Remembrance Day, Don will be watching the War Memorial Service broadcast on his television. Then, if it’s cold outside, he can do Sudoku or get out his watercolors. He never really participated in Legion activities, he says, mainly because he was in the British Navy.

But he is proud of his role in the war, his group disarming hundreds of mines and underwater bombs. « It was really an important chapter in my life, » he says. « I’m glad I did it and came through it injury-free and injury-free, and I’ve met a lot of good guys. »

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Meanwhile, a centennial birthday party is held at Tommy’s Restaurant in Kanata, where family and friends will raise a glass in Don’s honor. And then there will be another tomorrow, and another. And each time, he’ll wake up and say, « I’m glad I don’t have to work today, » something he’s been saying to himself every morning for 40 years. And he’ll be aiming for another 40, possibly 50. After all, not everything has been checked off his to-do list.

“I still want to go glider,” he says.

So, how does it feel to be 100 years old? The cars are better than before, he says. « And living to be 100 is good when you consider the alternative. »

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