Luis Molina died last year at to the age of 101 and ½. If you get to that age, you’re allowed to add the fraction, just as young children do when we ask their age. In the case of Luis, old age was nothing like what Shakespeare had in mind when he described the seven ages of man. Luis never lost his charm or his keen intellect. Anyone who thinks you’re supposed to slow down when you move to “Assisted Living” didn’t know Luis. To the very end he was, to quote his friend Polly, “sharp as a tack.”
He was born in Boston, educated at Harvard, and lived much of his life in Connecticut, where he rose through the ranks of a large insurance company. Music was essential to Luis. He was a proficient pianist, sang in the Harvard Glee Club, and never missed a concert.
I’ve noticed a connection between music and longevity. The only other centenarian I’ve known , Dr. A. Stone Freedberg, also died last year at the age of 101 and ½. Like Luis, he was passionate about music – he had a concert for his 100th birthday, and I ran into him at Symphony Hall the following year. My pianist says I should add the American composer Nicolas Slonimsky, who also lived to 101 and ½. I didn’t know him, but she did. Then I did a little research and found that Irving Berlin (whom neither of us knew) did the same thing. Maybe we should all go to more concerts!
After moving up here with his wife Kay in 1997, Luis immersed himself in the cultural life of the Monadnock region. He chaired RiverMead’s Performing Arts Committee and lent his considerable energies to promoting cultural activities and supporting local arts groups – Apple Hill Chamber Music, Monadnock Music, Peterborough Players, and probably others I don’t know about. The name of this column is “Looking Back,” but that is something Luis never did. For him, it was always about the next day, and the day after that.
I remember running into Luis in 2004, when he was a mere 96. “I just bought a new car,” he told me. “What kind?” I asked. “A Hyundai,” he answered. Luis then explained the terms of the purchase. “It comes with a four-year warranty, but if you pay more you can get six years.” I took the bait: “Which did you get?” “Oh, I got the six years,” Luis said.
At some point Luis gave up driving. I don’t know whether he made it into the fifth year of the warranty. I don’t suppose it matters. What does matter is that even during the tenth and eleventh decades of his life, he remained optimistic, lived life to the fullest, and listened to music every day.