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Sharp Health News

Celebrating 90 years from 13,000 feet up

April 6, 2017

Celebrating 90 years from 13,000 feet up

Jeanne Warnke celebrated her 90th birthday by jumping out of an airplane with her sky dive instructor, Scott.

The world looks awful small from 13,000 feet up in the air. When standing at the door of an airplane, looking at the long, long drop back to earth, who wouldn't be hesitant to jump?

Not Jeanne Warnke, who recently celebrated her 90th birthday with her first tandem sky diving trip.

"I felt so good and it was so beautiful. I didn't have a moment's fear," she says.

After a long career as a fashion model, newspaper writer and columnist, a 62-year marriage and raising two adult daughters, Warnke was looking for things to cross off her bucket list. When this opportunity arose, she jumped at it. "It always looked like fun," she says. "At this age, you just have to get every bit of fun in life."

Warnke needed her doctor's approval before heading up, so she turned to Dr. Brian First, a board-certified internal medicine doctor affiliated with Sharp Community Medical Group and medical director of Sharp Senior Health Centers. He's been her doctor for more than 10 years.

"Well, he didn't say yes, but he didn't say no," Warnke says. She appreciates the care she receives from Dr. First and his staff, including physical therapy, massage and regular health checks.

Celebrating 90 years from 13,000 feet up
Jeanne Warnke and her cheering squad celebrate post-landing. Top row, left to right: Dr. Donald Vance and his wife Karen, who provided Warnke with the sky-dive trip for her birthday; Donald Frey; daughter Geri Warnke; Pamela Bernard; and Donna Ehrenreich. Bottom row: Jeanne Warnke, daughter Melinda Lee, grandson Scott Kennedy and his wife, Nicole.

She credits her active lifestyle and her positive attitude for getting her to 90 years — and counting. She's been part of an active senior community at the Wesley Palms Retirement Village for five years, which helps her keep things in perspective.

Warnke says the Golden Years are a bit tarnished at times, but by using age-old wisdom, she continues to keep them healthy and full of new interests.

"At this stage of life, you have pain — in your body, the pain of loss — but we are always looking for things to keep us interested and find the joy in everything we can," she says. "I stay pretty current with the news and regular activities. I have some bad days where I have to pull out my cane, but I keep active and I keep a smile on my face."

That smile is evident in the video of Warnke's jump. "I put a lot of faith into my instructor and his parachute," she says, reflecting on the minute-long freefall before their parachute deployed and they descended safely to earth.

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