January 9, 2024

As the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31, people welcome the new year with a long list of resolutions. Though some of the most popular include losing weight, eating right, reading and saving money, they’re all motivated by the same desire: the pursuit of happiness and a long, fulfilling life. While the secret to happiness can be subjective, who better to take advice from than Aggies? Hear words of wisdom from four former students, each over 100 years old, who have navigated life’s many chapters.


  • Charlie Walker ’41

    104 years old
    (Photo provided by the Walker family)

Have Faith

Ask Charlie Walker ’41 for his secret to a long life, and he’ll give you two: “Jesus and good genes.” For the 104-year-old, his faith in Jesus and his family matter most, and though his eyesight isn’t what it used to be, he still regularly listens to the Bible and points to the Bible studies and prayer groups he’s participated in through the years as having an immense impact on his life.

Staying socially connected and meeting new people is perhaps a close third on his list of advice for a life well lived. Wherever he goes, he wears his Texas A&M cap, which helps him meet other Aggies and bond with them over conversations about their families and current students they know.

Even as a student, Walker experienced the power of the Aggie connection when he and a few friends hitchhiked to California for a Texas A&M vs. UCLA game. Though he only had $20 for a weeklong trip, he returned with $2 still in his pocket thanks to the generosity of people who saw his Aggie uniform.

After graduating with a bachelor’s in civil engineering, Walker immediately entered the Army as a second lieutenant to serve during World War II. He then held careers with the Texas Highway Department and the construction firm he founded, Harrison Walker Construction Co., with a brief stint as the mayor and then city manager of Paris, Texas.

Today, the Aggie Spirit has accompanied Walker on numerous trips to the hospital for treatment and rehab following a broken hip and broken legs. Each time, he cannot go without his Aggie cap and Aggie shirt, and they always garner warm smiles. “As an Aggie, there’s a friendship and closeness with people you’ve never even met before,” he said.

  • William “Bland” Harrison Jr. ’43

    102 years old
    (Photo by Kaley B. Photography)

  • William “Bland” Harrison Jr. ’43

    Soon after marrying his wife, Sophia, Harrison served in Europe during World War II, during which time his daughter, Victoria, was born. (Photo provided by the Harrison family)

  • William "Bland" Harrison Jr. '43

    Harrison was devoted to his late wife, Sophia, and was happiest in life whenever he was with her. (Photo provided by the Harrison family)

Find Your Purpose

Update: Following his interview but prior to the publishing of this article, William "Bland" Harrison Jr. ’​43 passed away on Jan. 7, 2024.

When William “Bland” Harrison Jr. ’43 married his wife, Sophia, he knew he’d found his purpose in life. “I married the most beautiful girl on campus, and I was the happiest in life when I was with her,” he proclaimed.

A native of Stamford, Texas, Harrison studied agricultural economics at Texas A&M University, and after graduating as a second lieutenant, he married Sophia and left to help with the war effort in Europe, where he was awarded a bronze star for his fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. Five years later, the couple returned to Stamford to raise their family, and Harrison helped his father on the family’s farm businesses until he began working for the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. By the time he retired, he had achieved the position of senior executive director, a role appointed by the U.S. President.


Through all of life’s changes, every decision Harrison made was driven by his commitment to Sophia’s happiness. When she developed Type 1 diabetes in their early years of marriage, he didn’t hesitate to be by her side, caring for her until her final moments. Now, the 102-year-old remains in his family home, built on the Stamford Country Club golf course to reflect his longtime passion for golf, and dedicates his time to family, who have followed in his maroon-and-white footsteps to uphold Aggie traditions for four generations.

  • Marvin Daniel ’50

    101 years old
    (Photo provided by the Daniel family)

  • Marvin Daniel ’50

    Daniel met his late wife, Leota, during a blind date in high school, and the two were married for 73 years. (Photo provided by the Daniel family)

  • Marvin Daniel ’50

    Marvin finds his family's happiness to be his greatest achievement, deriving immense joy from their success through generations. (Photo provided by the Daniel family)

Surround Yourself With Good Company

Marvin Daniel ’50 is no stranger to achievements in life. A Florence, Texas, native, he began his studies at Draughon’s Business College of Dallas but soon volunteered for the Army after Pearl Harbor was attacked. After the war ended, he studied agricultural education at Texas A&M. While in school, he held a part-time job with the USDA’s Soil Conservation Service surveying land and creating soil maps, and he continued to work with the department for more than 30 years after graduating. He then entered the real estate business in Fredericksburg, Texas, and worked for 30 years before retiring at 88.

But when asked about his greatest achievement in life, the answer was immediate: “How good my son and his family turned out.” Daniel’s family has always been his greatest source of happiness. He met his wife, Leota, during a blind date when they were in high school, and he found great joy watching his son grow. Today, the 101-year-old proudly talks about the determination and optimism he learns from seeing his Aggie granddaughters navigate life. “I’m blessed to have such wonderful granddaughters and great-grandchildren,” he said. “I’m happiest when I’m thinking about them or with them.”

  • Harold “Soupy” Reich ’45

    101 years old
    (Photo by Josh Huskin)

  • Harold “Soupy” Reich ’45

    Ever since Reich arrived on campus in the pouring rain, he's been a passionate Aggie, and he continues to attend the San Antonio A&M Club every week. (Photo provided by the Reich family)

  • Harold “Soupy” Reich ’45

    At age 92, Reich retired to dedicate more time to his beloved family, including his daughters, Helene (far left) and Norine (center), and his son, Allen (right). (Photo provided by the Reich family)

Stay Active

For 101-year-old Harold “Soupy” Reich ’45, the age-old advice of staying in shape still rings true. He continues to attend the gym, and at age 99, he walked his granddaughter down the aisle and danced with her at her wedding.

Reich has been no stranger to staying active ever since he was first dropped off at Texas A&M in the pouring rain, armed with nothing but his wooden trunk to keep him dry. During World War II, he entered the Air Force, and his military career took him to France, Germany and around the United States before he retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1969 and entered the real estate business. At 92, he finally retired to spend more time with his family.

Through it all, he’s found time to maintain his Aggie connections. For years, he and his late wife, Clara, traveled around Texas to attend reunions with the Class of 1945. In 2019, he donated an Aggie Ring to a veteran. And today, he still attends San Antonio A&M Club meetings every Monday, interacting with fellow Aggies and keeping up to date with the university from prominent Texas A&M figures. “I put my Aggie Ring on 79 years ago,” Reich remarked, “and I’ve worn it every day since.”