Ray Moore was working out on a leg extension machine at Prisco Community Center, when he felt – and heard – “bones cracking” in his left knee.
“The doctor told me: ‘You get two choices. You can be in a wheelchair the rest of your life or we can replace the knee,’” Ray recalled during a recent conversation in the Prisco lobby. “I said, ‘Sign me up for that.’ One month later, I was back in here.”
That was 10 years ago.
When Ray was 87 years old.
Still going strong three years from his 100th birthday, Ray is a Fox Fitness regular. Like clockwork, he arrives at Prisco – 7 a.m. sharp – every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
“If I don’t show up for a few days, I generally get a phone call,” Ray says. “Everybody looks out for one another here.”
“Ray has been a faithful attendee every morning,” says John Fusek, a manager at Prisco. “He’s such a great guy, always in conversation. He walks in with his Chicago Cubs duffel bag.”
Ray served four years (1942-45) with the United States Army Air Corps during World War II. Stationed in England, he was a tail gunner on a Flying Fortress, defending against enemy attacks from the rear of the plane.
Upon returning to the States, Ray met and married Delores – his wife of 49 ½ years, before her passing in 1997 – and the couple had four children, two of whom are deceased. Ray has seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, and still lives on his own on Aurora’s east side, where he maintains a half acre of land.
The Prisco fitness center remains a much-appreciated respite for Ray, especially during the winter months when the yard doesn’t require tending. “I used to do a lot more than I do now,” says Ray, whose exercise routine currently includes workouts on the treadmill and rowing machine.
A bluegrass music enthusiast, Ray’s typical post-workout morning consists of making a pot of coffee and flipping through the newspaper, before getting on with the rest of his day. But the familiar, friendly voices at Prisco keep calling him back three times a week – something he plans to continue “’til I can’t go no more.”
“I’ve always exercised and it’s something I like to do, because you get to talk to people,” Ray says. “You might not know all the names, but you can still have nice conversations. Living by yourself, that’s something you need. This is a meeting place for seniors.”
When asked to share any advice for staying “young,” Ray’s eyes shifted to the ceiling, and he paused in reflection.
“Just get up outta the chair and get moving,” Ray says. “Yeah … that’s the secret.”
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