She was seven years old when the Titanic sank. She’s lived through two World Wars and the Great Depression. Still, at 105 years old, Freda Palmer is as sharp as a tack.
On Monday, Freda celebrated her birthday at Rancho Bernardo’s “Casa de las Campanas” retirement home where she’s lived since 1992. About 20 close friends and family members toasted to her good life.
“She's enjoyed life so far,” said her great nephew Werner Palmer. “Let her enjoy it some more.”
Freda lives in the home’s independent quarters. Employees say her memory is impressive and she can get around just fine. So what’s her secret?
“I don't know,” shrugs Freda. “It just happened I guess.” She then adds walking always helped her stay active.
“I can't do too much anymore. I’ve had to slow down a bit in the last couple of months,” she said.
A little fun doesn't hurt either.
Before her birthday dinner, Freda invited her guests to a cocktail hour.
“I drink on Christmas and Easter and on my birthday,” said the birthday girl before sipping on champagne.
Back in 1923, when Freda was 18 years old she left her native Germany in hopes of coming to the U.S. She still remembers arriving at Ellis Island before marrying and settling down in New Jersey.
“I just wanted to be a good girl and take care of myself,” she recalled.
In the early 90’s Freda decided to retire in San Diego with her now late husband. She fell in love with the city and her generous spirit followed.
She donated more than $2 million to build a center for people with Alzheimer’s disease in her retirement home. She also donated millions to the San Diego Zoo.
"She loves the panda and the elephant exhibit and the Wild Animal Park,” said Freda’s great nephew Roland Woerner.
As far as any regrets, Freda says she wishes she could have foreseen all the advancements in technology.
“I'm very sorry I was too old to get into computer business.”
For now friends and family say, Freda is already planning her next birthday party.