CARLSBAD — It was 10 months before the end of World War I when Carlsbad’s Evelyn Leonard was born.
And to celebrate her 100th birthday on Jan. 20, 2018, Leonard was treated to an all-day celebration with friends and family.
It’s becoming a family tradition of hitting the 100-year mark. Leonard’s mother passed away at 104.
But two weeks ago, Leonard’s home off Paseo Del Norte was decorated with balloons, food and streamers celebrating the milestone.
“It was an open house so we had people coming (all day),” said Leonard’s daughter, Carole Richer. “She was talking away to everybody about everything.”
The past few years, however, Leonard has battled through numerous injuries including a partial hip replacement in 2015, a broken leg in 2016 and a back problem last year.
Still, the centenarian is in high spirits, even though she lacks mobility. On her birthday, Leonard was in a joyous mood as she sang and had an ice cream sandwich mixed with the occasional nap.
The key to her longevity, though, is keeping a healthy lifestyle, according to Richer, who is her mother’s full-time caregiver.
“There’s probably several factors,” Richer said. “She eats really healthy, organic, no sugar and drinks lots of water. She tries to stay calm and positive and, of course, she doesn’t smoke and wasn’t a drinker.”
On Jan. 20, 1918, in Kankakee, Illinois, Leonard came into the world and since has spent a life blazing trails in the medical field and close to Hollywood. Born to middle class parents, Leonard wanted more than the small town could give her, so she went off to college.
Upon graduating, Leonard became one of the first woman to be a medical technician.
She then moved to Los Angeles in 1950 where she found a job at Temple Hospital, before moving to Centinela Hospital in Inglewood, where she would remain for the next 30 years.
She met Robert Leonard on a blind date in 1955 and after two years of dating, they married in 1957. Several years later, they had Carole.
Robert Leonard, meanwhile, spent a career in show business as an extra in many films including “Heaven Can Wait” in 1978.
After the Leonards retired, they moved to Temecula then to Murrieta after Robert Leonard passed away in 1992. Ten years later, Richer and her mother landed in Carlsbad.
Being on the move throughout her career left Leonard with little time for hobbies. But now, she gobbles up old movies, Richer said.
“She just loves movies,” she added.