Turning 100: Former San Rafael fire captain celebrates big birthday

Bay Area

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (KRON) — A retired San Rafael fire captain is poised to hit a milestone that not many reach — his 100th birthday is tomorrow.

Because of the pandemic, he’s going to be celebrated Saturday afternoon with a big drive-by parade in downtown San Rafael.

KRON4’s Maureen Kelly sat down with him to learn his secret to longevity.

“I didn’t think I’d make it to 50!”

John Diego sits with his youngest and only surviving sister who came up from Orange County to celebrate his 100th birthday.

But for having made it through 10 decades, he’s relentlessly positive.

His favorite word: Super.

He’s super at keeping busy for a man of his advanced years.

The World War II vet spent 35 years in the San Rafael Fire Department.

“I loved everything about it,” he said.

And also got his contractors license, building his house and so many others in Marin County he’s lost count — as well as volunteering to help remodel the city’s mission.

He and his late wife of 50-plus years raised seven kids here. Three of his 18 grandkids followed him into the fire department.

He has a wood shop jammed with tools, and his yard is full of his current handiwork, an Adirondack chair, a model of the Golden Gate Bridge and lots of birdhouses.

Which he happily gives away.

“I always like to work with my hands and make stuff,” he said.

He lives with his daughter Julie who believes keeping busy is what’s kept him in her life this long.

“Because he gives so much to other people, he loves to give everything to people, work for people volunteering,” she said. “I think that makes him real happy.”

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