SPRINGDALE, Ohio -- Every day, promptly at 1 p.m., Howard Constable walks into his local Costco in Springdale.
The 95-year-old Glendale resident confidently strides in and is enthusiastically greeted by the store’s employees.
He is an unusual customer, though. He doesn’t come to just shop; he comes in for his daily exercise.
He walks a mile of the 144,000 square footage of the store and spends an hour or two there daily.
He is always accompanied by one of his three regular caretakers who have been with him for the past 12 years now.
“I like to walk here because the temperature never varies. I never have to worry about the cold or hot or rainy or snowy weather,” Constable said.
“And I like the people here, they are very friendly. I buy just about everything here. Clothes and all kinds of stuff,” he said.
Constable says his “health is good” and he is doing “great” and that he will probably live to be 100 years old.
He wasn’t always so confident because he doesn’t have a “family history of longevity.”
His parents died of heart attacks, both coincidentally at age 72, and his brother passed away in his sleep when he was 74 years old.
When Constable hit 91, he asked his cardiologist at his annual checkup if he would make it to 92.
The cardiologist was blunt. He frowned as he rattled off the multiple heart issues his patient had: “Five-way bypass, third pacemaker, atrial fibrillation, leaky tricuspid heart valve and high blood pressure, so we’ll see.”
When Constable came back next year, he asked “Will I make it to 93?”
The cardiologist stared at him thoughtfully and said, “I can’t take the credit for keeping you alive, someone of a higher authority must be doing that.”
He added that Constable would “probably” make it to 94.
At his next annual checkup, Constable discovered that the cardiologist had retired. The new cardiologist refused to predict his client’s next birthday.
On September 30, 2016, Constable celebrated his 95th birthday. His cardiologist said he will see him next year.
“It’s looks like I will live to be a hundred,” said Constable humbly.
“I have no problems. I am strong, healthy and I love meeting new people and making them my friends.”
If the 30 Costco employees he calls his friends are anything to go by, Constable is right on target.
They were the ones who celebrated his birthday in their staff break room, complete with cake and balloons.
“Howard is just amazing. He loves Costco and he is very sociable and the nicest person you could ever meet,” said Glen Greer, the general manager.
“He is just an inspiration to our employees and to our demonstration employees as well.”
Constable is welcomed warmly as he walks around with his caretakers and his "World War II Veteran" hat. Shoppers shake his hand and to thank him for his service to the country.
Employees usually save things to give to Constable. On a recent afternoon, Jennifer Apking, a cashier, stopped by his home to give to give him a St. Patrick’s Day cookie.
“Howard is my best friend. He is the sweetest person to know. He makes my day, every day,” Apking said.
His caretakers love him, too.
“I love Howard. He is such a blessing. He says positive things about everything. Being with him isn’t a job,” said Shanda Harris, beaming. She is one of his caretakers and his “friend,” she added firmly.
When Constable isn’t hanging out at Costco, he goes to his church, Wyoming Presbyterian.
Constable was born and raised in Cincinnati’s West End neighborhood with his only sibling, Jim. His mother Marcella worked for a local drycleaner, and his father Edward was a shoe maker. The children attended Catholic school and later graduated from Norwood High School.
Constable went to work for Wright Aeronautical, which is Curtiss-Wright today and made engines for aircrafts.
Two years into his employment, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
“That made me so mad that I enlisted in the Navy. I am the reason you are not speaking Japanese in America today,” said Constable, adding that he spent three years in the South Pacific region.
During one of his breaks, Constable married his high school sweetheart Jean. Three years ago, she died of a stroke after the two shared 72 happy years together. They had five children: Linda, Dan, Beth, Mark, and Amy, 16 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren.
After he returned from the Navy, Constable realized that jobs were scarce so he took advantage of the GI Bill. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Miami University in just two-and-a-half years.
Then he went to work at General Electric for 38 years as a production control manager.
Meanwhile, people always want to know Constable’s “secrets” for longevity, but he says his doesn’t have any. Instead, he describes his lifestyle.
“I eat vegetables, fruit, very little meat and four ounces of wine daily. I walk and socialize at Costco daily. I do head, neck, leg and ankle exercises. And I don’t drink or smoke,” Constable said.
And he has over 45 life lessons to share. Here are a few: “Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years will it matter?’ All that really matters in the end is that you were loved.” And, “Forgive.”