Living the Dream one bucket list item at a time

Bob McCray

In December, Bob McCray turns 90 years old. He lives at Solstice Senior Living El Cajon with his wife Darlene of 70 years, and one of the things on his bucket list was to experience the free falling of skydiving. And on Aug. 6, he got his chance through Solstice Senior’s Living the Dream program, with an indoor skydiving experience at iFly San Diego in Mission Valley. But things did not go as expected.

“I went to do some indoor skydiving, and when I went in to fly, I hit my heel, and now have a ruptured Achille’s tendon,” he said. “But other than that, the flight was good, the prep was good, the people there treat you very well. They were very concerned when I got hurt. When I told my instructor ‘Fish’ that I was hurt, he asked if I wanted to continue and I said, ‘No get me the hell out of here.’ He laughed and got me out.”

Jennifer Booth Solstice Senior Living El Cajon, Sales and Marketing director said that with the wind tunnels, you are only supposed to gently fall in, but that McCray “took a great big leap, basically diving into it.”

Booth said Living the Dream is part of its Vibrant Life program that strives to help residents achieve lifelong goals, and skydiving was on the top of McCray’s list.

“His whole family was there,” she said. “His grandsons, great grandchildren, and it was really exciting, and I think it is a testament to Bob’s nature, even though he said it was incredibly painful, he still said he was so happy that he did it, that he took a raincheck to go back.”

Bob McCray was born in Hot Springs, South Dakota on Dec. 31, 1931. He said that his “dad got smart” moving them to San Diego in 1940 and getting them out of the “hip deep snow.” He said Luna Vista opened for aircraft workers and he lived there until 1951, when he married Darlene.

McCray began working part time with Coca Cola as a sophomore at SDSU in 1950, which led to a “good 37 year career.”

“I came up through the ranks and when I finally retired, I was the director of public affairs. I used to tell people, ‘If you are going to have an affair and make it public, call me,’” he said was his best beginning line.

McCray went to represent Coca Cola at the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo in 1984, and as a reward for that, he was able to take his wife to the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles the same year.

“We were sent a number of places around the world representing the company,” he said. “It was really a great career, a lot of fun, met a ton of tremendously nice people everywhere.?

When McCray retired from Coca Cola, he had an entire second career as owner of La Mesa Carpet and Linoleum. “At 75, I finally hung it up,” he said.

Now, McCray said they have two children, five grandchildren, seven great grandchildren, and another one on the way.

Booth said McCray is a wonderful ambassador for Solstice Senior and as she brings people through, she makes sure that they get a chance to say hello to Bob.

“Bob is awesome,” she said. “He puts their minds at ease, and he gives them a realistic vision of what to expect. They have lived here three and a half years now. Bob and people like him are such an inspiration. He does our History Talk once a week for the residents. He is always up for trying something new, he volunteers, he assists us here in our community. Because we are independent, he answers the phone during the night if there is an emergency, so he did not just sit back and enjoy retirement.”

McCray said though he misses his old neighborhood that they lived in for 59 years, Solstice Senior is a great place for them.

“I will be 90 in December, and the other thing on my bucket list is that I want to live to be 100,” he said.

Living the Dream one bucket list item at a time