MESA, AZ - A Valley man celebrated his 109th birthday Tuesday morning and is proving age really is just a number.
When Bernando LaPallo was born in 1901, Theodore Roosevelt was president of the United States, the world was celebrating the beginning of the 20th century and Texas was gushing over its first oil discovery.
"Oh, I've had a marvelous life," said LaPallo, a strict vegetarian who walks every day. "Never been sick a day in my life."
The Mesa father says he eats only vegetables and fruit, explaining, "if you take care of your body it will take care of you."
LaPallo was born in Brazil and moved to the U.S. at the age of five. He was an only child and the apple of his father's eye. LaPallo grew up the son of a doctor with a house boy and servants. He was taught at an early age to eat well and exercise to maintain optimal health.
After studying abroad, LaPallo became an internationally renowned chef. He spent decades cooking for prominent people including Winston Churchill and still maintains a big appetite for life. "I've been around the world four times and hit every continent in the world," said LaPallo.
LaPallo, a father of four children and four grandchildren, has no plans on slowing down. He remembers a lesson he learned from his own father who died at the age of 98.
"He said you can make $50 million, but if you can't see, you can't walk, you can't talk, what good is it," LaPallo said.
So what are the five foods keeping LaPallo going and going and going?
"Garlic, olive oil, cinnamon, chocolate and honey. Honey, you'll never get sick," LaPallo explained.
LaPallo hopes to live until he's at least 125-years old.
"I feel great," LaPallo smiled cheerfully.
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