‘That’s her happy place’: 108-year-old woman marks birthday by swimming in ocean off Parksville

'That's her happy place': 108-year-old woman marks birthday by swimming in ocean off Parksville
WatchA 108-year-old woman on Vancouver Island celebrated her birthday by spending it in her happy place: swimming at the beach in Parksville. Skye Ryan has more.

Louise Denbow smiled from ear to ear and giggled, as she slipped into the cold waters off Parksville to mark her 108th birthday.

“I didn’t really do a lot of swimming, it was mostly surviving,” the 108-year-old said laughing.

She splashed and kicked her legs in the same water she has returned to year after year ever since she was a young girl.

“That was the best of all. Every year we gotta go up to Vancouver Island and enjoy the beach,” said Denbow.

“She’s just had it her whole life. That’s her happy place,” said Denbow’s daughter Martha Foss.

The great-grandmother credits Parksville’s beaches as one of the reasons she’s still so alive, and so vibrant.

“Looking forward to whatever comes, though, I don’t know what that is,” said Denbow.

All through attending the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, becoming a teacher, getting married, and moving away to California to raise her two girls, she’s always returned to her beloved Parksville home on the beach.

At 108, Denbow is the oldest surviving alum of UBC and splits her time between Parksville and San Diego, where CHEK News spoke to her just before she was about to attend her 108th birthday party.

“It just feels like I’m looking forward to everything,” said Denbow.

Born Sept. 1, 1913, Denbow has survived the Spanish Flu, Great Depression, and the Second World War.

According to her daughters, all those events made her seize the day from a young age.

“I’m always amazed by my mom she’s just such an inspiration,” said Denbow’s daughter, Bobbi Gerhard.

Denbow’s now already looking forward to her return swim at 109.

“Bring your swimsuit,” said Denbow.

Louise Denbow, middle, shortly before her 108th birthday party at her second home in California.

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