Bob Parkinson began teaching Sunday school when he was still a teenager. Back then, Calvin Coolidge was president and Parkinson lived on a South Dakota cattle ranch, a long way from Glendale First United Methodist Church, where he has since become a fixture.
Parkinson turned 102 on Nov. 16, and he still delivers Bible study lessons to a small cadre of students each Sunday. Parkinson said his teaching philosophy is "to just get along. Accept the kid at where he is, and don't try to impose where I am on him."
He said the secret to his longevity is a century of living right.
"This may sound corny to you, but clean living," Parkinson said as he sat on the couch of his tidy home near Brand Park. "Never smoked, never drank…and kept a positive attitude. But I don't think you can rule out genes."
Parkinson's teaching credentials go well beyond Sunday school. He taught high school in Sioux Falls, S.D., for 15 years after earning a bachelor's degree from Dakota Wesleyan University and a master's degree at the University of Iowa. During World War II, he taught military recruits how to build a working radio from a box of loose parts.