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Sharp as Ever


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  What’s the secret to living a hundred years? For Orinda’s Ellie Sharp, it’s having fun.

"I smoked for 65 years!" she laughs. She also devoured thick, juicy steaks and never heeded her father’s advice to give up martinis when she turned 40.

But Sharp is no idler. Petite and always chic, she grew up dancing, riding horses, and fishing. She continued to ski and hunt ducks into her late nineties; she was also still swinging golf clubs and tennis rackets at the Orinda Country Club.

As this great grandma prepares for the big 1-0-0, she’s slowed down just a little. To help celebrate her centennial, Sharp will be the guest of honor at a party the country club is throwing for her birthday on December 22. (She is the club’s longest continuing member: She and her late husband, Jim, joined when they moved from Oakland to Orinda in 1946.)

Sharp’s memory is razor-like. Don’t ask her about the 1906 earthquake; she was born eight months after it struck. But she recalls how, in her twenties, she was touring Europe when the stock market crashed in 1929. "My mother and I were in the Ritz in Paris. She said, ‘Let’s go next door to the stock exchange and see what the market is doing.’ "

One century into this business of living, Sharp has some advice to offer, including tips on how to have a long, happy marriage. She shares what her husband told her on their wedding day. "’If you want to get along with me, just give me lots of compliments and no criticisms. So when he had to go to the office, I’d say ‘good-looking suit.’ "

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