Vacca presents Council citation to 94-year old walker

(Right) Silver Beach resident Nicholas Tonner and Vacca take a stroll down Poplar Avenue.

Councilman James Vacca presented a New York City Council citation on Monday, July 14, to local resident Nicholas J. Tonner, who, at the tender age of 94, walks two miles nearly every day and credits his steady exercise regimen for his good health and mental agility.

Tonner, a lifelong resident of Pelham Bay who recently purchased a house in Silver Beach with his wife, has always had a penchant for fitness ― swimming and fishing in Eastchester Bay in his youth, snow skiing straight through his 60s, and water skiing until age 75.

Now, following a hip replacement, he generally limits his exercise to long walks and the use of a stationary bike in his home. Aided by a cane, Tonner can often be seen strolling along Pennyfield Avenue, anywhere from Maritime College to St. Frances de Chantal, weather permitting.

“Mr. Tonner represents a remarkable example of how physical fitness contributes not only to how long you live but also to how well you live,” said Vacca, who chairs the City Council’s Subcommittee on Senior Centers. “I’ve been working in the Council to encourage senior centers to offer fitness and wellness programs, but in Mr. Tonner, we have someone who has done this all on his own, and he deserves to be recognized for it.”

In addition to his regular exercise routine, Tonner noted that he eats three square meals a day and takes daily vitamins. But keeping himself busy is his number-one health strategy. “I think being active is the secret,” he said. “It’s important to have a purpose, to know when you wake up in the morning that you have something to do.”

Joining Tonner at the citation ceremony were members of three successive generations, including Tonner’s two great-grandchildren. Tonner’s son, John Sr., said he remains in awe of both of his parents’ stamina, and that neighbors have shared in the amazement.

“People heard mom and dad had bought a house in Silver Beach,” John Sr. said of his then-91- and 92-year-old parents. “People thought, ‘They must be very optimistic people.’”

Indeed, while old age might have slowed Tonner down a little, the lifelong Bronxite says he has no plans to scale back his workout regimen anytime soon. Asked by the councilman how his knees were holding up after so many years of activity, he quipped: “They’re still there.”

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