Somewhere, several hundred people are walking around in the donated slipper boots that were hand-knitted by a lifelong Campbell resident: A woman who lived through 16 presidencies, whose eyes have witnessed a century’s worth of progress, and whose feet have walked in more than 100 countries.
This past Sunday, Evelyn M. Buck arrived at the milestone age of 100.
Evelyn M. Patterson was born on Aug. 5, 1912 in Stockton, Calif. to Katherine Andreason from Denmark and E. James Patterson from Pennsylvania as a middle child of seven children, the older of the couple’s two daughters.
She grew up in Stockton, where she met and ultimately married Earl Buck in 1929 at the age 19.
“Back in those days,” Evelyn Buck will tell you with austere sincerity, “if you weren’t married and having children by the time you were 18 you were an old maid!”
The couple moved to Campbell in 1941 when Earl found work at FMC Corporation, eventually becoming a supervisor. Being and industrial worker in an “essential occupation,” Earl was excused from serving in World War II.
They enjoyed 32 years of marriage until Earl died in 1961, leaving Buck to raise their three sons. One son became a doctor, another a pharmacist, the other a symphony conductor. Evelyn Buck declined to tell more about them out of respect for their privacy. Buck never remarried.
Because the family had already established roots in Campbell, Buck stayed even after her sons had left home.
Though a lifelong Campbell resident, Buck enjoyed several years of wanderlust, working 17 years as a tour guide for the former Santa Clara-based travel agency Mission Travel.
“I’ve been everywhere,” Buck boasts. “Everywhere except India.” India notwithstanding, her travels took her to more than 100 countries, earning her a membership with the Traveler’s Century Club. The TCC is a non-profit organization founded in 1954 in Los Angeles to represent travelers who’ve visited 100 or more countries, and whose members are considered goodwill ambassadors.
Buck’s favorite country to visit, she said, is Mexico. She learned to speak Spanish fluently several years ago and led several tour groups through the country. She even went on a Mexican cruise last year.
Currently, she resides at , where she’s lived for the past 11 years. The senior living establishment claims to have been home to four centenarians since opening in 1981. Buck is now its fifth.
Buck doesn’t claim any secret to longevity. “Good genes and a positive attitude” are all it takes she’ll quickly tell you. But she will add that there’s no peace of mind quite like having your affairs in order well before you die.
When Buck was 83 she inherited some money from one of her brothers who’d died. With the money she said she bought a casket and a burial plot next to Earl and took care of all the arrangements for when she dies.
“That was almost 20 years ago,” Buck said with a chuckle. “And here I still am.”
With such distractions out of the way, the spry Buck, who gets by fine without a cane, a walker, or a scooter, enjoyed traveling abroad, participating with her Campbell Chapter of the Eastern Star, attending .
When she’s home she spends her days tirelessly knitting slipper boots of all sizes, boasting upward of 100 or more a year, she claims, and donates them to a housing shelter.