As it is for many, December has been hectic for Beverly Coberly.
The Huntersville resident’s to-do list, however, probably doesn’t resemble anyone else’s, and it’s certainly not that of an average 81-year-old.
Instead, her list read like a contractor’s, a counselor’s, an IT consultant’s and a college student’s rolled into one.
This month, Coberly tore down the walls of her garage, then reinsulated and paneled them. She clocked in her hours for her part-time job at a facility for troubled boys.
She solved computer problems for the frustrated who called her during her weekend gig as an on-call tech-support consultant.
And she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from UNC Charlotte.
“I like being busy,” said the octogenarian, in what may be the grandmother of all understatements. “I’m not a person who sits and turns on the TV.”
Coberly got her start in Los Angeles, where she grew up as a child under the bright lights of a city always offering something new. She says that may be why she’s constantly yearning for a change.
“I’m not a person who’s stuck in her ways,” she said. “I recognize, hey, that’s not how it was when I was growing up, but it’s different now, and that’s the way it is, so go with it and accept it.”
“My attitude is pretty different from most people my age.”
Her life has shown no signs of a slowdown. After retiring as an office manager to more than 300 employees in California, Coberly moved to Huntersville in 2002 to be near her daughter and grandchildren.
During good weather, she spent most of her days jumping off her daughter’s dock into Lake Norman, knocking out home renovations by herself or working a wide spectrum of part-time jobs, from counseling to technology support.
When she got wind that senior adults could attend college free (a program that since has fallen victim to budget cuts), Coberly decided to finish the degree that had eluded her for decades.
“It was on my bucket list,” she said. “If I could do it and it was free, why not go?”
Education has always been important to Coberly, but scheduling it has not.
She dropped out of high school but finally earned her diploma at age 26. She picked up an associate degree at Santa Monica City College a few decades later.
She never intended that to be the end.
On Dec. 13, Coberly stood with 3,300 peers waiting to receive their degrees during UNC Charlotte’s fall graduation ceremony.
As she listened to the commencement speaker speculate about their futures, she already was planning how to tick off the last two items on her bucket list.
“At one time, I had a round-the-world ticket,” she said. “I got as far as Greece, and then I met a guy. I still have to go to Egypt. I still have to go to India.”
Her final goal, she said, is to become a centenarian.
“That’s a really lame ambition, but that’s my ambition, and by God, if anybody can do it, I can,” she said. “That’s just my attitude.”