Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Action plan

Harold Mattfeld, 99, of Austin, works out three times a week at Austin's YMCA.

Do you have days when you feel like being lazy and taking a nap?

"When you feel like that, you should get up and get moving," said 99-year-old Harold Mattfeld of Austin.

Born in 1912, Mattfeld will celebrate his 100th birthday in January. He has been teaching people how to get moving for years.

Mattfeld moved to Austin from Fort Dodge, Iowa, in 1951 as a partner in the chain of lumber stores formerly known as Cashway Lumber in Austin, now owned by Probuild. Mattfeld spent 22 years as manager of the store and promoted do-it-yourself projects where customers bought the supplies they needed to accomplish their own home improvement projects.

Harold and his late wife, Elma, had two daughters who graduated from Austin High School and now both live in Connecticut.


Since his retirement in 1972, Mattfeld has proved to be more active and adventurous than most people — even those not yet retired.

He enjoyed traveling the world with his wife, noting that one of his favorite trips was to New Zealand.

Soon after his retirement, Mattfeld joined the YMCA of Austin, where he enjoyed swimming and serving on the finance and endowment committee.

Elma and Harold enjoyed playing golf and tennis for many years.

"We played tennis with a group of friends every day in the summer, and I played singles until I was 75 years old and doubles until I was 85," Harold said.

Up until two years ago, Harold played 18 holes of golf every Thursday, walking the first nine holes and riding in the golf cart the last nine.

"I decided I wasn’t improving, so I might as well quit," he said with a laugh.

He also enjoyed flying a plane until he was 90. He started flying at age 29 and served as a flight instructor in the U.S. Air Force from 1942 to 1944.


He owned a plane for 62 years, and Harold and Elma enjoyed taking short trips around the United States.

Harold's adventures didn’t stop when he gave up flying. Last winter, while vacationing in the Florida Everglades, he tried a different kind of flying — parasailing.

"I was told that I broke all the records, nobody in the area had ever seen someone my age try parasailing," he said.

Mattfeld explained how he was attached to a sail with a harness and as the speed boat accelerated he glided 600 feet above the water.

Last year, he broke another record, for being the oldest person to try zip lining in a jungle in Costa Rica.

Mattfeld said he sat in a harness that was hooked to a cable that glided 100 feet above the jungle. He said the adventure lasted a little longer than he anticipated:

"There were 13 different wooden platforms set up along the cable where you could stop for a few minutes. I think I would have been OK with stopping after the sixth platform, but that would have left me in the middle of the jungle, so I had to keep going."

When asked to what he attributes his long life, Mattfeld credits Elma.


"Elma was a wonderful cook, and we always ate healthy food," he said.

Also, exercise is a part of Mattfeld’s weekly routine.

"I exercise at the YMCA about three times a week, but once in a while I skip," he says with a smile.

What To Read Next
Get Local