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Senior citizens picnic brings out 'young at heart'

By John Gibb

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The secret to longevity evidently is keeping a little spring in one's step.

This certainly seems true for Tex Jones, 82, of St. Albans.

Jones is a charismatic fellow who simply wants to have fun. His personable manner and passion for dancing have electrified crowds for decades.

The gathering at the Kanawha Valley Senior Services annual picnic Tuesday at Shawnee Park in Institute was no exception.

Jones wandered around and attached himself to any senior citizen who wanted to share a dance. When he was without a partner, he danced by himself and said he didn't mind doing so.  

"I'm young at heart," Jones said. "I have dancing in my blood. I love people and enjoy cheering them up through dance. I love seeing the smiles and excitement."

Jones said he enjoys keeping up with his grandchildren.

"I have as much energy as they do and that is a beautiful thing," Jones said. "I have never taken medication. I have stayed healthy just by dancing."

Clifford Kees, president of the Kanawha Valley Senior Services board of directors, said it was nice to see people get out of their easy chairs and come participate in a day of fellowship.

"This annual picnic is an opportunity for senior citizens to come out and enjoy each other's company," Kees said. "It's always nice to see everyone come together and have fun. The entertainment, Bingo and the cakewalk are excellent additions to the picnic that almost everyone here seems to enjoy."

Entertainment included music by the Roadrunner Band and the Rev. Jimmy McKnight.

Loretta Rollins, 83, of St. Albans said she has been at the picnic every year since it first took place in 1987.

Rollins is a regular at the Hansford Senior Center in St. Albans. She is constructing a scrapbook of Hansford events that will include photographs of all the picnics her group has attended.

"This is definitely the place to be," Rollins said.

West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant agreed with Rollins.

"I always look forward to coming to this event," Tennant said. "These are some great folks, and they look forward to seeing me each year as well."

Tennant spoke to the attendees regarding services her office provides senior citizens. These services include charity regulation and voting accessibility.

Contact writer John C. Gibb at or 304-348-4872.

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