The Franklin County Senior Activity Center has a motto: You don’t stop playing because you get old, you get old because you stop playing.
Judging by E.C. Lester’s life, they might be onto something.
Lester – who will turn 100 in five days – was honored Wednesday for not only hitting the century mark, but also for 22 years of dedication to his billiard buddies at the center.
As a part of the celebration, which also honored those 90 and up, the small group that frequents the poolroom presented the 99-year-old with a plaque for being the center’s most dedicated player.
Also, the Rev. Wade Hughes presented Lester with a painting and provided musical entertainment with Jackie Burch.
“I want to tell you, E.C. has been an inspiration to me,” said Tom Griffin, one of Lester’s pool pals. “He’s given me a lifetime goal, and that’s to be able to walk around that pool table and play when I turn 100.”
Because of his failing eyesight, Lester said he now enjoys the group’s fellowship more than the actual game, but it doesn’t stop him from stepping in and showing the young bucks how it’s done every few turns. An early morning win against Larry Wilhoite proved it.
Greeting passersby in a brown corduroy coat and striped tie, Lester was reflective as center regulars stopped to congratulate him.
“I could fill a schoolroom blackboard with a list of the stupid things I’ve done,” he said with a laugh.
“I’d do things differently if I could live it over, but I’m generally happy with the way my life has gone.”
Days from 100, Lester says he’s looking forward to a celebration potluck with family and friends at Evergreen Baptist Church this weekend. And though it might be a little premature, he’s also planning on making it to the potluck to celebrate his 200th birthday.
By his estimates, the formula for 200 should be about the same for 100: “Hard work, clean living and plenty of exercise … exercise chasin’ the women,” he teased.
And as long as he doesn’t stop playing, E.C. Lester’s plan just might work.