It’s not every day that someone in Durango turns 100 – much less 104 – but one resident has hit both of these milestones. Allene Pera, who lives at Sunshine Gardens Senior Community, celebrated her 104th birthday Wednesday with a party.
Pera was born in Nucla in 1915 either at her home or the home of another family member, as there was not a hospital in her town, said Donna Burr, Pera’s daughter.
Pera had one husband – Walter Pera – who she was married to for almost 70 years before he passed. They married in the basement of the Montrose Courthouse in 1936 because they did not have the money for a wedding.
Pera and her husband had five children, and she spent her life as a homemaker, washing clothes for five kids without a dryer. In 1939, they moved to Tomboy for a year, a now-abandoned ghost town at an elevation of 11,509 feet. Her husband had taken a job with the power company working to monitor power for Silverton, Ouray and Telluride and would live in what was already considered a ghost town.
Pera and her husband moved to Electra Lake where they spent 15 years raising their children. They also spent time in Telluride, Cascade Creek, Nucla and Durango when they were married.
She spent her recreation time jeeping with her husband. Burr said the first jeep they had was a surplus jeep from World War II. When they lived in Nucla, she would spend her time hunting for dinosaur bones and playing cards with friends.
Pera said her greatest accomplishment in life is raising her children.
“I think I did a good job,” Pera said in an interview Wednesday with The Durango Herald.
She sees this as an accomplishment because they turned out so well, she said.
Burr said Pera has too many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren to count.
In 2018, for the Fourth of July parade in Rico, she was named the grand marshal and got to ride in a convertible Cadillac.
Pera said the secret to longevity is one’s attitude toward life.
“Just laugh and be happy,” she said.
She said Wednesday that as she turns 104 she doesn’t feel any worse or better than she did years ago.
She continues to walk daily, make her own bed and work on her sewing and crocheting. And she works with her daughter, Burr, to make quilts for the needy. Pera donates the quilts she makes to hospitals and safe houses as part of a national group of woman quilters called Project Linus.