To Herta Rommel, living until your hundredth birthday is easy: Just live one day at a time and don’t worry about your age.
The founder of German electronics company Pilz GmbH & Co. KG turned 100 April 24 with a lively party attended by friends she’s accumulated during her 14 years in Thailand. Her daughter Christel, Germany’s senior correspondent in Thailand, was at her side.
“I never thought about living to 100 years old and actually never really wished to be that old,” said Rommel, whose mother lived until age 105. “When I thought of centenarians, I always envisioned old, senile and feeble people and that really scared me.”
Herta Rommel as a young girl and as a young successful business woman.
She may have gotten old, but Rommel is anything but senile and feeble. While she generally has used a walker since breaking her leg six years ago, she still can get around with a cane if need be. She needs no help to shower or wash her hair and even does some light exercise in her garden.
“I just have to take care to not stumble over my dog Uschi,” she chuckled, noting she takes the pooch out for a walk every day at 6:30 a.m.
Rommel joked that she likes going out with her daughter, even if Christel constantly tells people she is 100.
Herta Rommel, grandson Thomas Pilz (left) and daughter Christel.
“People look at me like I came from the moon,” Rommel said. “But I think my daughter forgets that as soon as people know my age, they want to know hers.”
Not only active in body, the centenarian remains active in mind. Since having cataracts removed, she’s rediscovered the joy of reading. She’s also online, having learned computers at age 94.
“The only time my eyes hurt is when I stare at the computer too long,” she said.
Rommel has never really been ill, having only been hospitalized for an appendectomy some years back. She does now have to use a hearing aid, but like so many things about her old age, she relishes it.
Herta with her lifetime achievement award, the Oscar.
“The device has one big advantage,” she said. “It can be turned off, as well as on.”
Simply happy to live out her days as she sees fit, she says she now can simply tune out advice about what to do and what to eat. While she’s generally a vegetarian, she does enjoy coffee, mayonnaise and cake.
Rommel says her days are quite busy for someone ten decades old.
“I often wonder where the time has gone. After reading the Bangkok Post and Pattaya Blatt, I like watching German news on the Internet. I only have a few close friends and I don’t need more. I enjoy nature, our dogs, watching the birds, frogs and the geckos. I read a lot, call friends in other countries via Skype and I’m doing crossword puzzles.
“I rarely watch TV because of all the terrible news: Natural disasters, murder, war, revolutions, rebellions, corruption, envy and malevolence; where will mankind end up?”
She even still remains interested in business, having been trained as a psychologist, but also having worked in glass blowing and electronics.
“I worked 20 years as a jack of all trades when I was the boss,” she recalled. “That really sticks in the mind.”
Now, however, she continues to live life one day at a time, but calls it a night at 8 p.m., going to sleep with Uschi “hoping to see the sun shine again the following day.”
Great celebration for centenary
On April 24th Herta Rommel’s birthday was celebrated appropriately at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort. A circle of close friends and acquaintances was invited to the celebrations and even her grandson Thomas Pilz and his wife Kristina came all the way from Germany to attend the celebrations and to congratulate her.
Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome also appeared and, on his knees, presented a flower bouquet to Herta and they both chatted together for quite a while.
Another voluminous flower bouquet she received from Panga Vathanakul, managing director of the Royal Cliff, and of course vice general manager Ranjith Chandrasiri also attended and received a floral bouquet himself, because his birthday was on the same day.
The Pattaya Immigration Office was represented by two head officials. Naturally the media was present and Peter Malhotra personally congratulated the birthday girl. Pattaya Blatt’s Elfi Seitz read her a self made poem and handed over a lifetime achievement award (Oscar) to Herta, while her neighbor Mia read out some remarkable events of Herta’s year of birth.
She was of course delighted by the appearance of Kurt Krieger and his wife, who affectingly take care of her in case of the absence of daughter Christel. Other good old friends showed up for the celebrations as well. Cokronagoro Pram and his daughter Dhiat came all the way from Indonesia to see Herta and to congratulate her.
A number of business people, like Volker Fischer and his wife Monika, were present but there were so many that it is impossible to list them all.
Children from the Pattaya Orphanage, led by Radchada Chomjinda from the Human Help Network, performed a wonderful dance in lovely Thai costumes and enchanted all those present. Another highlight was the marvelous birthday cake donated by the Royal Cliff, which everyone enjoyed very much.