The best way to fill your life with all the warmth, sincerity and virtue that every single one of us strives for, is to be true to your word. It’s that simple and that complicated.

Gwen Johnson was a flight attendant for American Airlines during the 1940s. Back in those days she never gave jumping onto an airplane and flying all over the world a second thought. Today though she is 90 years young, and is at all times a mother, grandmother and great grandmother—so you’d just assume that jumping out of an airplane would be the last thing on this earth that she would ever want to do. But you’d be wrong.

The Value of Hard Work

Born in America to Swedish parents, Gwen and her five brothers and sisters grew up learning the value of hard work every single day on their farm in Minnesota. With such a prideful and humble beginning, you could say it was written in the stars that Gwen would forever have a soft spot in her heart for the underdog. At an early age she was inspired by the lives and teachings of Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. From this point on her true and forthright path in life was all but set.

The Younger Man & a Cherished Philosophy

Married for 65 years to a former marine, a much younger man of 88, Gwen and her husband Jim are rarely if ever apart. The two met while on a blind date in Hollywood, and ever since that fateful night they’ve just always wanted to be by each other’s side. Though people tend to playfully tease charming couples like this, these two take it to a whole other level, so much so that friends and family affectionately refer to them as “Gwim”.

Successful relationships like these are quite rare, but the more you get to know Gwen Johnson, the more you realize that her beautiful approach to life wouldn’t have allowed her to go about it any other way. Though there have been many wonderful facets of their marriage that have grown throughout the decades, it has always been Gwen’s cherished philosophy that’s provided the foundation for every incredible moment that has passed: Be honest and truthful in all things, and honor your promises.

I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

The Blue Zone Lifestyle

The hit book “The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest” by New York Times best-selling author Dan Buettner. This book discusses the areas around the world where large segments of the population live free of disability all the way to 100 and beyond. From Italy, Japan, Costa Rica, Greece and even Loma Linda, California, the lifestyles these people live rely primarily on eating lots of fruits and vegetables, getting plenty of exercise, spending time with family and friends, positive thinking and possessing an overall gracious demeanor. Those that can unite these powerful behaviors will dramatically improve their physical, emotional and mental health, and can expect to extend life expectancy by at least a decade or more.

It should be no surprise that Gwen Johnson lives the Blue Zone Lifestyle in every possible way. She walks daily, swims during the spring and summer, eats healthy and is constantly surrounded by the people she loves and who love her in return. She has a heart for service and practices gratitude with everyone she has the pleasure of meeting.

In addition, Gwen has a rather adventurous streak in her. She has climbed a section of the Himalayas, rafted down the Colorado River and worked as a missionary, which included living in trees with monkeys. She has served in places like Kenya and Guatemala, and is so resolute in her daily life that with every breath she makes the world a better place.


That’s right! Having been inspired by Marianne Bergeson, a local friend who jumped at 80 and then again 82, as well as George H.W. Bush, Gwen jumped out of an airplane earlier this year.

But this jump had far greater significance than a simple celebration of life. Gwen took to the skies because she had promised her daughter Callie, who late last year at the age of 55 passed away. Callie battled bravely against the cancer in her breast, but unfortunately the disease was too much for her body to bear. When Gwen made the jump she had a picture of Callie with her and even spread some of her ashes during the fall.

Once safely back on solid ground, Gwen promised her family and friends that for the rest of her life she would skydive on each and every one of her birthdays, starting with her next one, which will be her 91st.


Gwen Johnson has honored the promise in every way possible throughout her extraordinary existence. Exemplifying what a life of hard work, honesty, and gracious sacrifice can achieve, the quality of her choices speak for themselves. Whether it be six and a half decades of marriage, fulfilling a promise to a dying child, or giving what she has so that others can know happiness, hers is a life that teaches and allows all of us to see where we may do better.

Author's Bio: 

James McPartland (aka “Mac”) is the Principal and Chief Inspiration Officer of The JMac Performance Group, a specialized management consulting firm focused on realizing the importance of the human potential in business. He is an entrepreneur, author, international speaker, and noted authority on leadership, team building, corporate wellness, and transformational change.

Mac focuses on helping successful leaders transform into their ‘best’ by achieving positive lasting change in behavior (and results) for themselves, their people, and their teams. As a consultant and speaker, he has worked with senior executives in organizations from Fortune 500 corporations including; The Dow Chemical Company, IBM, Allergan, Technogym, Les Mills International, Spinning and Total Gym, as well as non-profits such as The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

Mac’s vast business experience includes
• Expertise in strategic business modeling and business plan development, analysis and execution
• Design and deployment of creative, effective, and aggressive sales and marketing strategies
• Recognition of potential in business, people, and opportunities
• Strong communication skills in motivating and inspiring allegiance to company goals and core values
• Strategic recruitment of synergistic top executive and support staff talent
• Development of passionate corporate culture, commitment and productivity through credible leadership, incentive drivers and motivation training
• Proficient management analyzing and employing measurable key metrics to drive core objectives and outcomes
• Efficient execution of self-administered accountability systems motivated by incentives, recognition, and reward programs
• Track record of results. Built companies from start to $150mm in annual revenue, launched two additional companies in the health and nutrition space

Mac actively participates in numerous events and organizations including; The International Health and Racquet Sports Association, The American Heart Association, and The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. In addition he is currently active in U.S. Public Policy legislation that will positively impact the companies that provide wellness benefits.

He sits on the Board of Directors for two new health and wellness companies in California: Best Fit Data and Worthwell. Mac also speaks French, and is an active member for The World Presidents’ Organization.

James has been featured in numerous magazines and newspapers including; The Register and Times of Los Angeles, Club Business International and The Business Journal. He has also been a guest on network TV and numerous radio shows.

In 2008 Mac was recognized at The Mayo Clinic by The President’s Council of Physical Fitness and Sports for his outstanding contribution to wellness. Additionally, his efforts were rewarded by The World President’s Organization with an award for leadership. After a year of preparation he led a group of 55 executives on a first of its kind business retreat to Vietnam.

James earned his Bachelor’s Degree from North Carolina State University. An avid fitness enthusiast, he has completed 37 marathons and 8 Ironman Triathlon events. He resides in Coto De Caza, CA with wife Mara and sons Luke and Logan.

About The JMac Performance Group:
A ‘Human Performance Company’ dedicated to improving the health and profitability of a company by unlocking the potential of its employees. Business and people development consulting is cultivated through seminars, workshops, and executive retreats.

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