'PRINCE OF SENIORS' REVITALIZED BODY, SOUL.Byline: DENNIS McCARTHY Dennis McCarthy may refer to:
``People like Charlie just don't pass away.'' - Rosalinda Gonzales, director of the Bernardi Senior Citizen Center
No, they don't. They're supposed to live forever, doing what they do best, handing out rain checks on old age to the rest of us.
Nobody handed out more of them to San Fernando Valley San Fernando Valley
Valley, southern California, U.S. Northwest of central Los Angeles, the valley is bounded by the San Gabriel, Santa Susana, and Santa Monica mountains and the Simi Hills. seniors than Charlie Blisten, who passed away on July 8 after suffering a stroke at age 89.
He wasn't a doctor or a physical therapist. He was a retired men's clothing salesman with a healer's touch.
A guy who made hundreds of seniors riding out life on a couch believe their bodies could feel better - and their minds stronger, their spirits higher.
All they had to do was trust him and believe.
I saw the magic this man dispensed dis·pense
v. dis·pensed, dis·pens·ing, dis·pens·es
1. To deal out in parts or portions; distribute. See Synonyms at distribute.
2. To prepare and give out (medicines).
3. when I visited the Sherman Oaks/Van Nuys Senior Citizen Center in September 2004 to do a column on Charlie. He was running exercise classes there three days a week, and spending two days a week doing the same over at the Bernardi Center.
Dozens of seniors lined up to tell me how Charlie had extended their lives and given them quality years they never thought they would have.
Many of them - over 100 - attended a memorial service for Charlie last week, including Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel Wendy Greuel is President Pro Tempore of the Los Angeles City Council representing the 2nd District. Greuel was elected in 2002 to fill the remainder of the term of Councilman Joel Wachs. She was elected in her own right in 2003 and reelected in 2007. , who provided buses for Charlie to transport the seniors in his exercise classes on weekly field trips.
``Charlie was our treasure,'' Greuel said Monday. ``He kept the body and soul of so many seniors active, and that's priceless price·less
1. Of inestimable worth; invaluable.
2. Highly amusing, absurd, or odd: a priceless remark. . We had a special nickname for him - the prince of seniors.''
Mary Porter Mary Porter (d. February 24, 1765), English actress, was brought to the attention of Betterton by Elizabeth Barry, who had seen her play the Fairy Queen at Bartholomew Fair. , who was a student in Charlie's classes, has taken over the exercise classes at the Sherman Oaks/Van Nuys center to keep the legacy of the prince of seniors alive.
``Charlie always said exercise had to be fun,'' she said. ``So that's what we're doing in his memory. Having fun.
``Charlie would call people in his classes at home, just to make sure they were doing OK. His whole goal in life was getting people up and out. Get them smiling and feeling good again.''
It was shortly after he retired in 1991 from Silverwoods Clothing Store that Charlie knew what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. He was on a visit to Brooklyn to see his mother in a convalescent con·va·les·cent
Relating to convalescence.
A person who is recovering from an illness, an injury, or a surgical operation.
1. pertaining to or characterized by convalescence.
``It was a sad place, all these people just sitting around vegetating,'' Charlie told me. ``That's when I said to myself, this is something I was going to do. Teach seniors to exercise and be active. Wring wring
v. wrung , wring·ing, wrings
1. To twist, squeeze, or compress, especially so as to extract liquid. Often used with out.
2. every second out of life.''
Charlie talked to doctors, read books, visited health clinics, took classes, and honed an exercise routine to revitalize re·vi·tal·ize
tr.v. re·vi·tal·ized, re·vi·tal·iz·ing, re·vi·tal·iz·es
To impart new life or vigor to: plans to revitalize inner-city neighborhoods; tried to revitalize a flagging economy. seniors - strengthen their muscles and bone structure.
Then he started working on revitalizing re·vi·tal·ize
tr.v. re·vi·tal·ized, re·vi·tal·iz·ing, re·vi·tal·iz·es
To impart new life or vigor to: plans to revitalize inner-city neighborhoods; tried to revitalize a flagging economy. their minds and spirit, too.
``He was a hero to so many people,'' says Bunny Blisten, Charlie's wife of 49 years. ``At his memorial, dozens of people told me Charlie made such a difference in their lives.
``One woman, a doctor, told me her father had basically given up on life after a triple bypass. She couldn't do anything to help him. Then, a friend took him to one of Charlie's classes, and since then he'd been too busy to see her,'' she said, laughing.
There were many laughs and smiles at the memorial, but no one missed the painful irony of the day. The man who had handed out rain checks on old age to so many seniors, couldn't give himself one.
``After the stroke I knew Charlie couldn't sit in a wheelchair,'' Bunny said. ``We had discussed what we would do, as every couple should. It broke my heart, but I had to let him go.''
Dennis McCarthy, (818) 713-3749
IF YOU GO
A celebration of Charlie Blisten's life will be held at 10:30 a.m., Aug. 10, at the Bernardi Senior Citizen Center, 6514 Sylmar Ave., Van Nuys. A luncheon will follow. For reservations, call (818) 781-1101.
Charlie Blisten, who died July 8, is shown running a workout Workout
Informal repayment or loan forgiveness arrangement between a borrower and creditors.
1. The process of a debtor's meeting a loan commitment by satisfying altered repayment terms. session at the Sherman Oaks/Van Nuys Senior Citizen Center in September 2004.
David Sprague/Staff Photographer
IF YOU GO (see text)