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Charlotte’s Connie Strain has wisdom and goals to spare

When you meet Connie Strain, be prepared to meet a 90-year-old who has goals and wisdom.

Strain lives in Ballantyne with her daughter Pam Sutton.

When asked for advice about longevity, Strain had a few things to say: “Do not waste your time with worry,” she said. “If you can fix something, do; if not, don’t worry about it.

“To be healthy is to be happy. Keep going and stay on your feet, and eat right.”

She said she has two goals: to be 91, and to increase her walking to 2 miles at a time.

Strain, born in 1924, lived in Woodcliff Lake, N.J., until she was 4, when her family moved to Staten Island, N.Y.

“I attended Curtis High School and played tennis, field hockey, track and swam. When I graduated in February of 1942, it was wartime,” Strain said. After graduation, Strain went to The Scudder School of Business in New York on an academic scholarship. She took business classes and pre-college classes.

Strain found employment at the Halloran General Hospital on Staten Island, working in the office part of the laboratory. Halloran was one of the largest military hospitals in the U.S. in 1943.

Today, the site is occupied by the College of Staten Island.

“In October of 1944, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army named Robert James Strain worked near me in the lab,” Strain said. “I offered him some lemon drops and we connected. We dated and knew right away that we were meant for each other.”

During WWII, staples such as gas, sugar, coffee and milk were among the many items rationed, and coupons were needed to obtain them.

“We got our gas coupons and the permission we needed and got married in January 1945, just three months after we met,” Strain said.

The newlyweds moved to Connecticut in 1946, when Robert took a job as a chemist for the Paula Payne Co.

“We had three kids in three years, and they were all good kids,” Strain said.

The family moved to south Charlotte in 1961, when Robert was transferred. While raising three children, Strain remained very active.

“I always played tennis, until golf took over,” she said. “My husband and I took many golf trips with our friends from Carolina Golf Club.”

Robert Strain died in in 2008. About that time, Connie’s daughter had surgery and moved in with her.

“My daughter … worked out in the gym a lot. … I decided to join her,” Strain said.

They work out at a local gym in Ballantyne, taking classes and walking.

Strain looks much younger than her 90 years and is spry and on top of her game.

“I eat right and have a toddy or two,” she said.

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